One of my favorite food brands in Chicago is Ian’s Pizza. (Full disclosure: My son Levi works at the Chicago location, so I get the occasional free slice.) This is a place that really knows who it is, and lives up to its brand promise. Ian’s has an atmosphere that is the opposite of pretentious, and serves pizzas by the slice in such eclectic varieties as Chicken Cordon Bleu, Guacamole Burrito, BBQ Steak ‘n Fries, Butternut Squash and the bestseller, Mac ‘n Cheese. By 1:30 AM on a Saturday night, the Clark Street bar crowd is formed into lines out the door, all waiting to buy slices to complement the beer they’ve been drinking. And, by the way, the job title of the pizza servers, such as Levi, is “Pizza Slut.” As I said, they are very clear about who they are and what their brand is.
Ian’s first location is in Madison, Wisconsin, not far from where protestors are protesting, and legislators are talking about legislating. Someone in Egypt (as if they don’t have enough troubles of their own) called Ian’s and ordered a pizza to be delivered to the protestors. Ian’s posted a tweet about it, and things took off from there. Politico picked up the story, and according to this story in the Huffington Post, people have ordered gift pizzas for Wisconsin protestors from 48 countries and all 50 states. Here’s a video from the Associated Press and an article from New York Times.
Isn’t this a wonderful ironic twist? An Egyptian, in the days just after Mubarak steps down, orders a pizza for protestors in Wisconsin. That’s got the makings of a great story.
And the fact that Ian’s is so non-traditional makes the story all the better. This story would have been really boring if the Egyptian had called Pizza Hut of Papa John’s.
Isn’t it great to see an idea that spreads so quickly, with no advertising, no paid media and no hype? Just enough real people doing something interesting, combined with a dose of social media, to interest more traditional media in helping spread the story.
Next time you’re in Chicago, Madison or Milwaukee, stop by Ian’s for a slice of Tortellini or Breakfast Burrito Pizza. Or, if you’re in some troubled Middle Eastern hot spot you can take a break from your own strife, and then call Ian’s to have a free pizza sent to a Wisconsin teacher who might lose her collective bargaining rights.