The Lowdown: Domino's Hurls Free Pizza, Chipotle Delivers

Lazy College Students Can Now Get Their Burrito Fix On Demand

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Welcome to the first edition of The Lowdown, Ad Age's weekly look at news nuggets from across the world of marketing, including trends, campaign tidbits, executive comings and goings and more.

Is time running out on "limited edition" marketing? A new Harris Poll found that 64% of Americans believe the term is overused for food and beverage products. But another buzzword -- "small batch" -- appears to have a longer runway, with only 32% of survey respondents saying that phrase is overused.

Here's something that never gets old: free pizza. Domino's Pizza is giving away thousands of free pies this year in the third season of its "DomiNoNo" partnership with Major League Baseball. Each time an MLB pitcher throws a no-hitter Domino's lets 20,000 fans order a free, two-topping medium Handmade Pan Pizza for carryout. In the first two years of the promo, the deals stopped after two no-hitters. This year, they've kept going. And so have the no-hitters. There have been six no-hitters in the 2015 season through August -- or 120,000 free pizzas, which typically go for around $10 each. It's the third time in the last five seasons pitchers in the majors have thrown at least six no-hitters.

For those too lazy to pick up a pizza, Chipotle Mexican Grill is expanding its lineup of home-delivery services, giving people several ways to bypass long lines and still satisfy their burrito cravings. The chain signed with Postmates in January after some delivery testing, then added OrderUp in March for delivery in certain cities. Now, college students can feed their Chipotle urges by ordering through Tapingo at half a dozen schools, with dozens more to follow.

ESPN's 'Gameday'
ESPN's 'Gameday' Credit: ESPN

Meanwhile, other corporate brands will invade college campuses via ESPN's "College Gameday" college football pregame show, which is hosted at various college sites during the season. The show is already "Built by The Home Depot," according to its official name, but that has not stopped a slew of other brands from signing up. The latest is Pizza Hut, which on Wednesday announced it is the show's official pizza sponsor. To mark the moment, the brand is giving away a free pizza to the first 10,000 viewers who spot a sign shown during the first telecast on Saturday, hosted live before the Wisconsin-Alabama game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. AT&T also happens to be another "Gameday" sponsor, along with Chevy, CheezItz, Coke Zero, Goodyear and Reese's. That's a total of eight sponsors, which represents a high-water mark for the show, according to an ESPN spokeswoman.

In other delivery news, alcohol on-demand delivery service Saucey said it raised $4.5 million in seed capital, following an undisclosed round from private angel investors. The LA-based service, which launched in May 2014 and serves certain parts of California and Chicago, said backers in the latest round were led by Blumberg Capital, with participation from Structure Capital and Altpoint Ventures. The venture round also attracted investment from T5 Capital, Scooter Braun, Phil MacIntyre, Nick and Joe Jonas, Terrence Jenkins of E! News and others. The company said it plans to use the funding "to expand its customer base, introduce advanced purchasing tools for consumers and further their data/advertising capabilities with major alcohol brands." As CEO Chris Vaugh said in a statement: "As we're transforming the future of alcohol retail and introducing never before seen off-premise consumer data, we've had tremendous support from some of the largest alcohol brands in the world."

Credit: Mariano's

Back in the bricks and mortar world, here's more evidence of grocery stores becoming "groceraunts" with in-store dining and higher-end prepared foods: Chicago-area supermarket chain Mariano's hired chef Ryan LaRoche as its first executive chef and VP of culinary. As Crain's Chicago Business reports, Mr. LaRoche will lead Mariano's in-store dining options and prepared-foods sections, such as its sushi bars, wine bars, oyster bars and vegan and barbecue operations. He'll also oversee the grocer's hot and cold foods area and its $6 and $10 meal preparations. Mariano's is part of Wisconsin-based Roundy's Inc. Meanwhile, Target plans to serve alcohol -- not just sell it -- at a smaller Chicago location set to open this fall.

Beth Comstock
Beth Comstock Credit: Doug Goodman

Finally, a pair of marketing executives are picking up extra duties. General Electric CMO Beth Comstock this week was named as a company vice chair leading GE business innovations, where she will "be in charge of building out GE as a service, along with her current GE Business Innovations responsibilities leading GE Lighting, GE Ventures and Licensing, corporate marketing, sales and communications," the company announced. Meanwhile, Nissan announced that Dan Mohnke, currently VP-chief marketing manager and operations, will take on additional responsibility for U.S. sales as he becomes U.S. VP for sales and marketing operations. Auto News has more on that appointment.

Contributing: Jessica Wohl, E.J. Schultz

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