Nothing comforts a broken heart like food. Punch Pizza, with seven Twin Cities locations reached out to passionate Vikings fans on Sunday on various social media sites offering a free pizza the next night to help them deal with the devastating NFC Championship loss to the Saints.


The result was nearly 10,000 pizzas given away (number from Punch Pizza), customers lined-up out the door, local TV news coverage and thousands of mentions on the web. Genius.

Few restaurants in the Minneapolis / St Paul area have been as savvy or active with social media as Punch Pizza and their latest interaction produced some incredible results. 

Let’s look at a few of the ingredients to Punch’s most recent online success (they’ve had a few).

The Method:  Punch has been socially active on the web for some time now. They use Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, Flick and their website. With over 5,000 Twitter followers of @punchpizza and 7,000 Facebook fans, Punch has plenty of customers to interact with. 


Timing: I loved the fact that they were prepared and jumped into the mix at a time when social sites were busting with chatter from the game.  Overtime has just ended, fans were crushed and Punch offered a small bit of light. Timing matters, Punch knew this.

The Offer:  Punch was ready to roll with 2 offer options, one to celebrate a Vikings win, the other to comfort the masses with a Vikings loss.  The Vikes lost and so Punch sent out a tweet and posted the offer to their Facebook page, free pizza was the cure.

The offer/coupon was posted to their Flickr page. All you had to do was print or show it on your phone to get a free pizza for dinner on Monday night.  Punch has carried out multiple marketing campaigns that integrate all of their social tools together, which is always a great move.

Conversation Effect:  Punch leveraged their community, network and customer base to turn a ripple into a wave.  One offer, one tweet and one Facebook update created well over 3,000 clicks to their coupon.

This Twitter mention graph from Squawq shows how they generated over 370 tweets in 2 days, a massive spike form their normal mentions and activity.


Their Facebook status update gathered interaction from a few hundred in the form of “Likes” and comments. See a few of them below, wouldn’t you love this conversation about your business?


You can also factor in they gathered new followers and fans on these accounts thanks to the mentions and interaction.

Traditional Coverage:  I haven’t been able to pin down from Punch Pizza if the local media was contacted or they picked up on the buzz from the social networks themselves, but Punch was featured on the 10pm news on KARE11.  30 seconds of air time showed sad Vikings fans getting cheered up waiting in line at Punch Pizza locations. (photo below from Kare11)


As one Vikings and Punch fan shared on camera: “I am really sad about yesterday because I thought this was the year and the pizza will definitely help because there is no better pizza. So, I’ll get over it real quick and we’ll put on our purple for next year,” says Tere Haas as she waited in line in the cold.

Outcome: I don’t know how you could ask for anything more out of a promotion like this.  Social interaction, branding, traditional media coverage and 10,000 pizzas in the hands of your faithful and newly found customers is a huge win.  I think you can measure this social media marketing and I’d bet they are pouring over the data generated past what I’ve outlined. 😉

Punch Pizza and their marketing minds (agency and/or internal) are commended for putting together a great social promotion. My only issue was that I wasn’t able to get to the Wayzata location last night and get my free pizza.


  1. Oh man, I’m still heartbroken by that loss. Not ’98 heartbroken, but close :)10,000 pizzas, wow! I remember seeing that tweet and was going take the offer up but decided against due to trying to eat healthy things that don’t taste good.That looks like a huge line but I bet it went by fast. It takes something like 90 seconds to cook one of those pizzas. I bet they made money on it, too. I’ve done the same offer a couple times but ordered extra toppings to bring up the total plus tip.They had an awesome promo a good year ago. The old owners (I believe) forbid customers to take pictures of their unique ovens. The new owners decided to do a 180 and had a Flickr contest. Whoever took the best oven pic won (don’t remember the prize). A ton of Flickr photos were taken and it admittedly made me go in for the first time.

  2. Punch has a good history here and I have a bit of backstory. In 2007, I blogged about Punch Pizza and in a rather degrading tone I attacked them concerning their policy to not allow photography of their ovens. As I said then, “…they don’t allow photos of their oven because they don’t want people stealing their design. I hate to break it to you Punch Pizza, but you’re not that special. If I were to steal good ideas and start a pizzeria, I’d probably steal my ideas from Napoli, not Highland Park.”There were threads on Flickr that were also angry with their bizarre photo policy and perceived closed-mindedness. They were completely out of tune with what was budding, just three years ago, a more vibrant social media scene in Minneapolis-St. Paul. They turned it around fairly quickly, in part with Tunheim Partners, designed a photo contest on Flickr, and encouraged others to take photos of their pizzas and previously coveted ovens. John Puckett, one of the owners of Punch Pizza emailed me to let me know about this and I offered to tell people on my blog about their reversal in policy as well as their new contest. I was their only real “promotion” for this contest and it went viral locally and it really turned their public stance around on new media.Since then, they’ve really opened up to doing more experimental and viral campaigns. It’s risky when you give away free stuff on Flickr, Twitter, and Foursquare but when it comes around to the extensive media coverage, blog postings and retweets, the tradeoff is huge. They were also the first in the area to give freebies over Twitter during inclement weather. I remember this acutely as it was one of the things we were going to offer to advertisers when we launched Heavy Table and they beat us to the punch, no pun intended. The only negative things I hear about Punch anymore is when the line is too long to get pizza.

  3. Paul – Thanks for the comment. I remembered the Flickr contest and Aaron explains a TON on that in his comment.Aaron- WOW how interesting is that? Really adds even more to the story when you look at the history of Punch being private and guarded to getting the social thing. You showed what some simple outreach and embracing can do along with props to Tunheim Partners for their part in that. Fantastic comment … that’s why I sought you out.

  4. Great post. This was an interesting promotion and a great idea. Their execution gained a TON of free and earned press and exposure to their brand. Of course! The question is how do they capture and sustain those impressions and convert people into true brand advocates over time. (A common marketing dilemma.) Impressions and giveaways are great and exposure tactics were successful now the next step is to continue building and capitalizing on the groundswell. PS – Not just speaking social tactics but online, future promotions etc.You should pull together a follow up email to see if they continue to build on this weeks momentum. Interested in seeing the results. :-)Mike

  5. You’re always looking at the next step Mike. It’s my hope as well that Punch continues the momentum they have built. I’d say they are looking to do so. They were helpful with a few things in putting this post together, so hopefully they’ll let me follow up. Thanks for the comment.

  6. Nice post, Aaron (both Aarons actually). Love to see local business take advantage of social media. I heard there was still a line out the door just minutes before close at the Grand Avenue location.I’d love to know if any other local MN biz harnesses social as well as Punch does. Know of any?

  7. Hi Andy – I’m not aware of another restaurant using SM as much or to this level. That said, there sure are many more of them using FB and Twitter than ever before. There are lots of MN businesses doing great things with social media, many of them don’t translate as easy as this one did. If I run across something of interest, I’ll post on it for sure.

  8. Interesting analysis (also makes us look smarter than we are!) – since alot of smart marketing people are on this blog I wanted some ideas – any other events/days/situations come to mind that really suck?john

  9. Hey John – Thanks for the comment. Maybe it’s not smarts, just common sense? Interact, be true, reward, say thanks. With core qualities you can plan, create and execute a lot of fun … I mean business. Guess you already grasp that.Things that suck … I have a few ideas. Holler if you want them.

  10. I hate to be Mr. Practical, but I wonder what the owner thought of this success? In other words would he have paid $60,000 for all this publicity? I based that figure on $6 value X 10,000 pizzas.I realize those are round numbers, he build a list, got links, etc. I am just saying 10,000 pizzas is not exactly free. BTW – if the owner says “yes” I would have gladly spent this money – then brilliant campaign.

  11. @ Arnie – Thanks for the comment. Actually, one of the owners commented above, asking for more things that “suck”, like a Viking loss for their marketing efforts. This comment alone makes me think the numbers really turned out in their favor, along with all of the other buzz generated.With the community of followers and fans they have, I feel they were 100% prepared for this kind of success. Punch Pizza has shown they understand being social, their customers embrace it and it shows in this promotion.Also consider what Denny’s has done with their FREE promotions and the Super Bowl. In the end, they made more $ with a free food promo last year … and it’s a reason they did it again this year, tomorrow in fact.

  12. Hey Aaron, thanks for pointing that out. I must have looked over the post 3X trying to find a comment from the owner or management. I didn’t realize John was an owner.So I stand corrected on Punch Pizza and kudos to them.And I have to admit, while watching the Super Bowl when I saw the Denny’s promo I thought to myself “I guess that must have worked last year.”We do this type of work for our clients all the time, and will use this as a little more ammo to convince them of the potential ROI that can come from some creative thinking.

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