I love me some Coco Brooks pizza! 

A fresh-out-of-the-oven Big Al’s Pizza, for me, is one of the better pie offerings in Calgary, but what the actual hell is going on with their marketing? Specifically the messaging on their packaging.

In addition to their logo, a quote, a website CTA, and ingredients, their 21cm x 21cm box includes:

  • 14 quotes, including one from God and another from Dr Seuss 
  • Healthy food tips that at no time mention pizza
  • Recycling information
  • Canola oil propaganda
  • Gift card advertisement
  • Dessert menu
  • Salad, smoothie, and dessert CTAs
  • A 500-word essay/prayer on what it means to be a friend
  • A request to “not be offended by the story on the box”
  • Contact information
  • And…

Before I go on here, I want to say that up until now, their box connects well to the decorating style of their restaurant, which is eclectic and fun.

Everything on here is okay, I guess, albeit a bit much to take in. It gives you something to read while you eat. 

But it’s the last thing they have on the box that boggles my mind. 

When you open it, on the inside of the top of the box — from top to bottom and edge to edge, a 500+ word story entitled: MY MOM ONLY HAD ONE EYE. 

(warning, the following blog includes Coco Brooks pizza box story spoilers)

The full story is available online, here.

But, to save you the emotional read that was my lunch yesterday, here’s the Coles Notes:

  • A kid is embarrassed that his mom only has one eye.
  • He recounts several times throughout his life when he abused her verbally for scaring everyone, ie. coming to his school or his home. 
  • He told her regularly that he wished she was dead and refused her access to his life.
  • When she died, he did not cry.
  • When reading a letter left by his deceased mother, one where she apologizes for existing with only one eye, it becomes clear how she lost her eye.
  • The little boy had an accident when he was a baby that caused him to lose an eye, so the mother gave him one of hers. 

“You see…when you were very little, you got into an accident and lost your eye. As a mother, I couldn’t stand watching you having to grow up with one so I gave you mine.”

What the hell? 

I Googled it BTW — here’s what I found:

"Can babies get an eye transplant?"

There is no such thing as a whole-eye transplant. The optic nerve, which goes directly to the brain, cannot be transplanted. The eye transplant would not work without also transplanting the optic nerve.

I am not above a story that isn’t 100% true — but to what end Coco? What are we doing here, me with my pizza and you with your need to make me feel…what, exactly?

Better put; what problem did this solve? What are people talking about over at Coco Brooks where the answer is a pretend story about a one-eyed woman and her ungrateful dick of a son?

“Oh shoot, what about_____?” says a panicked business exec over at Coco Brooks. 

“Don’t worry, we have that Korean fable on the inside of the pizza box lid.”

“Fewf”, says the exec, “that’s one less thing to worry about — now where are we going to put these 14 quotes?” 

I really don’t know how to wrap this post up except to ask, what exactly is going on over at the Coco Brooks marketing department? 

Are they bad at this or are they giving us a master class in what you can get away with when your product is too good to leave a bad taste? 

The only brand quality that shines through everything they do is a subtle hint of Christianity. 

They are closed on Sundays, they make references to the Christian bible, and they appear to follow and promote the Golden Rule. 

But if that is the case, and the story is meant to make you feel something that connects to how you should feel or would feel or could feel if you accepted some Christ with your crispy crust, why on earth would you use an overly depressing fable that at no time mentions anything good about anything? It’s a waste of effort by a brand that clearly cares deeply about making us feel something — but can’t explain what, or why. 

If you are one of the brands that are lucky enough to have the attention of loyal consumers,  decide what you want them to feel about you, or about whatever side interest you have that is in more need of the attention, and make it clear! 

Writing a 500-word essay on a box that requires a note underneath apologizing in advance and is quite possibly the most depressing thing I’ve read in years — with no factual basis and no call to action except to email Richard if you’re offended — I just…I just don’t get what the hell is going on over at the Coco Brooks Marketing Department. 

Great pizza though.

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