A trade group formed by the major food delivery companies, in partnership with major pizza chains, has announced the launch of its "This Side Up" campaign to help educate drivers about how to handle pizzas.
Pizzas, falling into the category of foreign foods, are unfamiliar to many drivers. Unlike most conventional foods, pizza needs to be kept right-side up at all times, and should not be dropped under any circumstances. Our goal is to help drivers understand what a pizza is and how to handle one under a variety of typical delivery scenarios.
As part of its campaign, a new character will be introduced.
Pasquale the Pepperoni Pizza is a sympathetic cartoon pizza who will accompany drivers on their 60-minute training film excursion into Pizzalandia, a world where the only restaurants are pizzerias.
Pasquale is a flat pizza with no arm, but several dozen small legs which propel him on his journey, and is already a favorite with restaurants, drivers, and customers.
The film will start with an explanation of what a pizza is and how they are typically prepared, and then will offer a series of entertaining examples on how to transport one, and the consequences of improper handling. Each segment will show a driver picking up Pasquale and handling him in an improper manner at some point in the delivery process.
The film uses actual footage from cameras inside pizza boxes as Pasquale is mishandled, showing the dire consequences even a brief tilting can have. Each segment ends with the customer receiving the pizza, and their reactions when the box is opened and a maimed or dead Pasquale is revealed.
Some of the segments end by showing the customer opening the delivery app to the "Rate Your Driver" or "Problem With My Order" pages.
After each delivery is completed, the viewer will be asked to select the correct option from a set of choices that would avoid the mishandling. Making the correct choice allows the driver to continue to the next part of the film, while an incorrect choice begins a short segment detailing the new consequences for Pasquale.
With each incorrect choice by the driver, the 'wrong answer' sequence becomes slightly more graphic and the duration is increased, but is never more than five minutes long. After each 'incorrect answer' segment, the question is asked again until the correct option is selected to deliver Pasquale safely.
"We were very pleased to be able to work with Hollywood's premier horror effects studio; the suspenseful music during each segment builds up to the key mishandling, and when a driver makes an incorrect choice on the test, they will know it!"
The studio responded to our query as well; their spokesperson noted that "For a training film to have any enduring impact, it has to make a powerful, focused impression. We have tried to capture the sense of fun and excitement from the classic 1980 adventure movie Alien in this training film, and feel that the drivers who view it will remember it years from now with surprising clarity."
The major food delivery apps intend to make the training mandatory for all of their drivers; drivers who fail to complete it will no longer be able to take orders from pizza-selling restaurants.
Drivers who complete the training film will be mailed a 'Pasquale' dash ornament as well as a bright orange "I saved Pasquale!" T-shirt and hat.
One industry analyst agreed to speak to Tipped on condition of anonymity. He noted that...
"Pizzas have been by far the greatest challenge for the delivery companies, to such a degree that the major pizza national chains have been looking for alternatives that don't rely on drivers to handle them properly.
One national chain developed and actually obtained FDA approval for a food-safe glue which holds the crust to the box, but in market testing they found customers did not enjoy peeling each slice off of the bottom of the box.
Another company is working to develop edible staples which can be used to nail the pizza to the box, but it is still in primate safety testing, and oral injuries are reportedly common.
We also had great hopes for the market testing one delivery chain did where they rolled the entire cooked pizza immediately when it came out of the oven, and then sliced it into segments, like a giant sub sandwich.
The main problems they encountered were training their own employees to properly roll the pizza safely, and that the segments are so messy to eat that they require a fork and knife. Additionally, some customers confused the product with calzones and strombolis."
Participating pizza restaurants will be provided with posters showing a happy, intact Pasquale suggesting the right orientation for drivers leaving with pizzas, as well as large, prominent stickers to apply to the top of each box which say "Pasquale Says: This Side Up!"
Adorable Pasquale plushies have already exceeded anticipated demand at participating restaurants, and there are early discussions about cross-promoting Pasquale in programming on childrens' channels.
Drivers expressed interest in the campaign, and appreciation for the training to help them deliver properly. Jimmy, a driver from Iowa City, noted that "Most foods we can turn any which way just to make them fit in the back floorboard of our car, and pizzas obviously don't fit if they are lying flat. But when I see Pasquale there on my dash, I remember, and I never want to have to put another pizza out of its misery."
Damon, from Albuquerque, commented.
"Hearing Pasquale's screams has helped me understand the importance of proper handling. I still get nervous when I handle pizzas, but my hands no longer shake. The nightmares have finally stopped and I haven't lost a single pizza since passing the test. Also, the orange shirt is a real winner!"
Some drivers expressed frustration with the extra, uncompensated set of requirements for pizza orders. "All this special handling deserves a special fee for drivers," grumbled Vinnie, a driver in Brooklyn. "It seems like if they want to keep Pasquale out of that pizza graveyard they showed us, they would take into account the extra effort involved in handling him by the drivers!"