Sportress of Blogitude

On a strikeout tear, Cincinnati Reds pitchers have cost pizza chain $100,000


Taking a big bite out of its profit margin but making a big splash for its brand awareness, Cincinnati’s local restaurant chain LaRosa’s Pizzeria reportedly has had to fork over approximately $100,000 in free pizzas in conjunction with its promotion where it gives out tasty pies whenever Reds pitchers record 11 strikeouts in a game.

The deal is this: Any fan bearing a ticket stub from a home game at the Great American Ball Park where Reds pitchers notch 11 Ks receives a free eight-inch pizza with up to four toppings, costing the pizzeria up to $6.79 with every giveaway.

The pitching staff’s 16-strikeout performance on Monday against the Chicago Cubs makes five straight home games where the 11-strikeout threshold was reached and the sixth time it has occurred already this season. The Reds only accomplished the 11-strikeout feat 13 times last season, the first year of the LaRosa’s promotion.

Fans have seven days to redeem their ticket stubs for the free eight-inch pie at any of the restaurant’s 65 local outposts, and fans are made aware of the promotion via the ballpark scoreboard.

While indicating that he has heard some grousing from restaurant chain owners about the dramatic influx of free pizza giveaways, when asked what would happen if the Reds continue this torrid pace of strikeout dominance, Pete Buscani, LaRosa’s executive vice president for marketing, jokingly said, “First of all, you’ll be talking to another guy the next time you call.”

Nevertheless, Buscani insists that the promotion is paying dividends, despite the $100,000 price tag thus far, as fans also are ordering additional items on top of the free pizza. “The real reason to do this is to underscore awareness of our brand and get people to visit,” Buscani said. “This is the best promotion we’ve done in a long time.”

Indeed. Buscani reports that the pizza chain is seeing about a 13% redemption rate among fans eligible to receive the free pizza, although with all the press the story is receiving, that number could increase dramatically. Among the Reds diehards who love the promotion is Ted Kremer, the honorary Cincinnati Reds ballboy with Down Syndrome who told Todd Frazier to hit a homer last week, who was also hoping the Reds hit the 11-strikeout mark that night. Which they did.

“It’s exciting to be part of what’s been been going on at Great American Ball Park the last two seasons,” Buscani said.

[Indy Star, image via Facebook]