Burbank-based pizza chain Big Mama’s & Papa’s already held a modicum of fame before Sunday night’s Oscar telecast as the home of the largest pizza commercially available worldwide.
But even a $200, Guinness World Record-holding, 54-inch-squared pie couldn’t hope to provide the surge of fame bestowed rather suddenly on the company mid-telecast by Academy Awards host Ellen DeGeneres.
Big Mama’s & Papa’s Oscar debut is by now well recounted: DeGeneres offered to buy pizzas for the assembled A-listers and then pulled a grinning deliveryman with a stack of three boxes onto the Dolby Theatre stage.
And grease stains on couture gowns and bespoke tuxes be darned. Bold-faced names such as Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence chowed down at their seats.
DeGeneres milked the gag further by soliciting tips from Harvey Weinstein. Best supporting actress Lupita Nyong’o pitched in some lip balm.
But Big Mama’s & Papa’s wants more out of the exposure than a few $20s tossed into a hat.
The chain, which counts a Sunset Boulevard location blocks away from the awards site among its 20 units, is following up the Oscars with a publicity rampage.
Consider that early estimates peg Oscar viewership at an average of 40.2 million people during prime time, a 9% boost over last year’s preliminary numbers.
DeGeneres’ stunt likely saved Big Mama’s & Papa’s a fortune in advertising: Kantar Media pegged the price of commercial slots during the ceremony at $1.8 million for 30 seconds.
On the pizza company’s website, a photo of DeGeneres in her white suit and scarf dominates the page. The deliveryman, who is identified by the chain as Edgar Martirosyan and “not an actor,” is shown in a red hat and apron serving up a slice to Harrison Ford.
Big Mama’s & Papa’s Instagram page now features shots of Brad Pitt digging into a piece of pie by Angelina Jolie’s side, a befuddled Dax Shepard, supporting-actor winner Jared Leto accepting pizza from DeGeneres and Kerry Washington with an entire box.
The company’s Twitter account, where Kogi Taco Truck chef Roy Choi is one of more than 5,100 followers, noted that DeGeneres’ talk show put in another order out of Big Mama’s & Papa’s Burbank location.
The chain, owned by Armenian-born Aro Agakhanyan, is now angling to also become the official pizza of the Oscars.
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