Naked Pizza eyes US expansion with healthy dose of social media

Last fall, Naked Pizza, a New Orleans-based takeout joint that touts healthy pizza, mapped out its goal for success beyond "The Big Easy" as it activated a franchising model and PR drive to woo investors and developers.

Client: Naked Pizza (New Orleans)
PR agency: Trump Group (New Orleans)
Campaign: Naked Pizza launches franchising model
Duration: May-December 2009
Budget: $16,000

Last fall, Naked Pizza, a New Orleans-based takeout joint that touts healthy pizza, mapped out its goal for success beyond "The Big Easy" as it activated a franchising model and PR drive to woo investors and developers.

"The effort was promotional PR outreach and a conceptual approach to tell a story. We're contemplating the idea of fast food as something that helps instead of hurts," says Robbie Vitrano, one of Naked Pizza's four partners and chairman at the Trump Group, an agency that offers branding consultation.

Strategy
The strategy was to communicate a business idea that satisfied a post-recession financial purpose, as well as a nutrition-based social one, he explains.

The company also sought to generate buzz and investor interest through social media and participation in national contests. Among those was Mark Cuban's Open Source Stimulus program, which helps funds select business plans published on a section of the Dallas Mavericks owner's blog, www.blogmaverick.com.

Tactics
The company conducted media outreach and commented, through its LivNaked blog, on social issues such as healthcare reform and fast-food business reinvention.

"Social media has been at the foundation of the business idea because of the social mission," notes Vitrano.

Tactics also included a consumer promotion on Twitter.com/nakedpizza, for which the company replaced its main sign with one highlighting the Twitter handle for one day.

Results
Naked Pizza gained investment backing from billionaires Cuban and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, via an introduction from Cuban. The day of its Twitter promotion, sales rose about 30%. Coverage included Tech Crunch, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired.

The group received more than 4,000 inquiries about franchises; currently has 15 pending letters of intent from area developers; and hopes to have 20 to 30 US locations by the end of 2010.

Future
Naked Pizza will continue using PR and social media to promote the brand and various locations.

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