Some of you may have heard the latest uproar caused by Pizza Patrón. Known for its undaunted ability to generate press from clever, edgy marketing campaigns, Pizza Patrón’s latest endeavor was to name a pizza, La Chingona. While the name really just means “badass” in Spanish, it is derived from such an offensive root word that many native Spanish speakers find it offensive and refuse to use the word in most situations.
As noted by Scott Reitz from the Dallas Observer on March 18th,
CBS and Univision have refused to run it. La Chingona is in fact so offensive to some that NPR won’t run a story about Patrón’s plight on the radio, opting to keep their La Chingona coverage on the untamable Internet.
Click Here for the full story.
While Pizza Patrón felt the need to address the situation on its website, one must ask, “Can they really be that upset over this issue?” Let’s analyze it.
Has Pizza Patrón Broken Any Laws?
The easy answer is no. Pizza Patrón broke no laws in labeling a product something that some people, in this case some Spanish speakers, consider obscene. This is rooted in First Amendment law that we all have the right to free speech. Most people, lawyers or otherwise, know that we can say what we want, with just a few exceptions.
Are The Networks Liable For Not Allowing Pizza Patrón’s Commercials?
The networks refusing to run Pizza Patrón’s ads are absolutely not liable. First, there are probably contractual provisions letting the networks refuse to run anything deemed to be offensive. Also and more importantly, the networks are beholden to the Federal Communications Commission (the “FCC”) regarding what they publish. As such, the networks will typically do anything they can to avoid FCC penalties.
Thus, again: “Can Pizza Patrón really be upset over this issue?” Since they have broken no laws and they have not been damaged by anyone over the name of their latest pizza, including the networks, the answer must be no, and as the saying goes, “All press is good press.”
Have you seen any marketing campaigns with a different result? Have you been offended by slogans or pitches from restaurants? Please comment and let us know!
About the author: Matthew Sanderson is a restaurant lawyer in Texas. “Good service with a smile” is his motto. Click here to find out more about Matthew Sanderson’s legal practice and how he can help you today. Follow him on Twitter @dealattorney.