Chinga! Pizza Patron’s slangy ‘La Chingona’ ad scares the squares

censuradoThe last time POCHO mentioned Pizza Patron was when they pissed people off by advertising free pepperoni pies on June 5, 2012 if you ordered en Español. Elise Roedenbeck covered the story and noted the Pocho Ocho other things you can get for speaking Spanish.

Now the Dallas-based chain is back in the news with a controversial advertising campaign — set to debut at the end of this month — for a loaded pie called La Chingona, a $7.99 large pizza with approximately 90 slices of proprietary jalapeño stuffed pepperoni topped with fresh, diced jalapeños. The company says CBS and Univision refuse to run their radio commercials because the use of the C-word F’s up their chonies.

Pizza Patron is making the most of the controversy, as this screen cap from the company’s Facebook page shows (above.)

NPR’s CodeSwitch explains:

Pizza Patrón is a Dallas-based chain that’s generated a lot of media buzz over the years for advertising aimed at its core customer base, Mexican immigrants. Its newest promotion uses a popular Mexican slang word that to some means “super cool,” while others find it super-offensive.

The chain is getting set to launch a limited time offer, later this month, for an extra-spicy pizza with jalapeño encrusted pepperoni, topped with even more jalapeño. They are calling it La Chingona.….

In the [bleeped by NPR] radio ad… a customer walks in and asks for the “pizza chingona” and is told it’s only for chingones. Said customer subsequently makes a case for his chingon-ness: he can clap with one hand, make music with the rattles of rattle snakes, and live with his mother-in-law for a whole month.

Pizza Patron says this on Facebook:

Pizza Patrón Censored for Speaking ‘Mexican’
New ads too ‘chingón’ for many Spanish radio networks

Pizza Patrón, the Dallas-based pizza chain, was informed that the company’s new advertising campaign would not be permitted to air on a number of major radio networks. The decision came just weeks ahead of the radio spots planned premiere on Monday, March 31st.

The Spanish language ads feature different personalities who expound why they are ‘chingón’ enough to try the company’s spicy new LTO pizza named La Ch!#gona. Richards/Lerma, the Dallas-based Hispanic branding and creative agency, was hired by Pizza Patrón and charged with the task of creating spots that speak ‘Mexican’ to the brand’s core, Mexican-born customer base.

Aldo Quevedo, principal and creative director for Richards/Lerma defended the strategy behind the ads saying, “Mexican slang and humor are very particular, and we applaud Pizza Patrón for connecting with their core consumers at a very deep level, avoiding stereotypes. The brand speaks the same way they do, I mean, WE do!”

“The decision to ban the spots over the name La Ch!#gona doesn’t make much sense to us,” stated Andrew Gamm, brand director for Pizza Patrón. “We are being selectively censored to protect the Mexican listeners from so-called potentially ‘offensive’ language. These same networks regularly feature songs and talk-show dialogue that is much more risqué than anything we are doing.”

According to Real Academia Española, the official royal institution responsible for overseeing the Spanish language, the definition of the word ‘chingón’ is defined as follows: chingón, na. 1. adj. street slang. Méx. “Said of a person who is competent in an activity or knowledgeable in a specific area.”

Edgar Padilla, marketing manager for Pizza Patrón and the creative mind behind the La Ch!#gona campaign said “colloquialism,” “picardía” (street-wise humor) and “censorship” are common traits in Mexican culture. “These same characteristics are essential to the foundation of our campaign whose objective is to speak directly to our customer’s heart. We understand and know who we are targeting and make no excuses – Pizza Patrón is a brand for La Raza (the people).”

Back to NPR:

Now, chingona means different things to different people. (More on that in a moment.) And as more marketing efforts reach beyond English to speak to an increasingly multilingual America, we’re going to be running into this more often — same word, multiple reactions.

All of which made me wonder exactly how people respond to the word.

First, I went to the experts and interviewed professors in the Spanish department at the University of Southern California. “I would translate it as bad-ass pizza,” says Sarah Portnoy, who teaches courses on Hispanic culinary culture. “It’s not a word I’d use in front of my mother-in-law. It’s a word that my 20-something nieces and nephews use among themselves.”

Portnoy’s colleague, Consuelo Siguenza-Ortiz describes herself as “on the tail end of the Baby Boomers,” and adds that she’s Mexican-American, but you’d never hear the word coming out of her mouth. “Some of us were outraged there would be such a campaign going on.”

Siguenza-Ortiz explains the verb that chingon, chingona and chingones all derive from is equivalent to the F-word and, no matter the context, it’s hard for her to get past that. She says it just sounds vulgar.

But a younger colleague, Natalia Perez, disagrees. She says the way Pizza Patrón is using it isn’t vulgar at all. “I’m from Mexico and in the ’90s we always used that word to mean cool… I don’t know, I just don’t feel that it’s that horrible.”

What do you think?

Profane? Vulgar? Totally Acceptable Slang?

Hey You Kids Get Off Of My Lawn?

Tell us in the comments!