When retailers and restaurants offer freebies, the point is to draw attention—not controversy. The only reason to protest 7-Eleven for giving out free Slurpees or Haagen-Dazs for dishing out free ice cream cones might be that the complimentary serving sizes are too small. But what do you expect when you’re paying $0? Now, though, a Texas-based pizza chain is drawing heat over its upcoming giveaway—in which pizza is free only to customers who order in Spanish.
Pizza Patron’s “Por Favor” promotion is set to take place on June 6 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., when any customer who orders in Spanish is entitled to a free pepperoni pizza. The chain, based in Dallas, has locations in seven states with large Hispanic communities, and 70% of the customer base is Spanish-speaking. The freebie is an obvious way to foster even stronger connections with this base.
According to USA Today, though, the promotion has many critics, including those in the Latino community:
“Maybe they thought it was a cute thing to do, but I think it’s discrimination,” says Marcela Gomez, president of Hispanic Marketing Group, a Latino marketing firm in Nashville.
Less surprisingly, rightwing groups such as the Conservative Caucus, which seeks to institute English as the nation’s official language, aren’t fans of the promo. “It seems to punish people who can’t speak Spanish, and I resent that,” said Conservative Caucus chairman Peter Thomas.
Fox News has jumped on the story, as it did when Pizza Patron began accepting Mexican pesos for payment in U.S. locations. Comments on Pizza Patron’s Facebook page run the gamut from enthusiastic support (“Delicioso pizza!!!!!!!!!”) to rants about immigration and racist jokes about the need to ask one’s gardener to order for them that day.
While it seems unwise for a business to seek out this kind controversy, maybe a little bit is OK so long as they’re generating a lot of attention. A Pizza Patron executive said he expected its restaurants would serve about 80,000 free pizzas on June 6.
Before then, there’s a chance for us all to come together as a nation that loves of freedom, as well as free edible treats. Friday, June 1, is National Free Donut Day, when customers of Dunkin Donuts can enjoy a donut on the house, and there are no stipulations regarding how your jelly, glazed, or Boston creme must be ordered.