Chuck E. Cheese has recently gained traction by selling their food on GrubHub. But not as Chuck E. Cheese. If you investigate, there’s a new restaurant in town: Pasqually’s Pizza. And the address is the same as the nearest Chuck. E cheese.
That’s because they’re the same. Chuck E. Cheese started selling pizza and wings under a new brand name, Pasqually’s pizza.
Why? Because nobody wants to order food from Chuck E. Cheese.
Attraction-Based Business is Hurting
With quarantine mandates in effect due to COVID-19, attraction-based businesses are suffering. While Chuck E. Cheese sells food- and is listed as a restaurant on delivery apps- it’s not marketed as a restaurant. It’s an arcade that offers food. Bowling alleys and movie theaters have food, but that doesn’t mean they’re making any money from it currently.
Enter Pasqually’s Pizza. Chuck E. Cheese’s is so well branded as an arcade for kids and a kids' birthday hotspot- and it normally works for them. But due to the circumstances, Chuck E. Cheese’s needs to sell food, not an arcade experience. Pasqually’s offers the opportunity to market under different branding without undergoing a full rebrand and permanent pivot for the chain. Pasqually’s sounds like a mom and pop pizzeria- in my hometown there’s a chain called Pasquale’s Pizza (and it’s delicious!).
Using Social Media for Marketing
Pasqually’s Pizza quietly appeared on GrubHub, and people started to catch on. The conspiracy theory that Chuck E. Cheese is masquerading as Pasqually’s Pizza started to go around Reddit and Twitter, creating buzz naturally.
People mocked Chuck E. Cheese for the rebranding attempt, but it only helped the company. Once the secret was out, people ordered from Pasqually’s for the sake of trying it out due to the craze on social media. Hellthy Junk Food posted a video comparing Chuck E. Cheese to Pasqually’s Pizza, with over 200K views at the time of writing.
A Short-Term Method That Works
We’ve seen this tactic work before, most infamously with IHOP changing their name to IHOB to promote their burgers.
Although the company [had] been selling burgers in its diners for years, many customers still only thought of the restaurant for pancakes and other breakfast food. -CNBC
The outrage on social media made the marketing campaign a success. People went in to try their burgers- temporarily. Now that the short-lived stunt is over, we’ve resumed to ordering pancakes.
Short-term is great for Chuck E. Cheese. Regardless of how long quarantine and COVID-19 runs, it’s a temporary situation. Once we can safely have birthday parties and go to arcades, Chuck E Cheese’s business model as an arcade can be successful again. This is a temporary solution- for a temporary problem.
What You Can Learn From This
Recent studies clearly show that, in a complex and turbulent market environment, adaptability is one of the key prerequisites for a good business performance. Journal of Business research
Adaptability is key. This hair-brained concept has allowed Chuck E Cheese to combat a serious economic roadblock. Local restaurants are closing and big retail giants are filing for bankruptcy, and Chuck E. Cheese is lessening the financial hit with the new brand.
Story is Everything
Every brand has a good narrative to sell. -Ali Mese
This emphasizes the importance of branding and story in marketing. It’s not just what you’re selling, but how. Focusing on a specific direction is better than tackling many things. It just so happens that Chuck E. Cheese is an arcade for kids, and Pasqually’s is a pizza shop. Two completely different avenues selling the same pizza.
Chuck E. Cheese flipped the script. They adapted to a changing situation under a covert brand name with a different story. Some might say it’s a tacky, or rather, cheesy move to masquerade as a different restaurant. But it just might be ingenious.