Pi Day’s an easy PR win for most brands

Banks are dishing up free pie on the day devoted to a mathematical calculation. MIT touted its newest admissions. But hold on, cowpoke. Cow pies? No thanks.

When we think of the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, few of us find our thoughts turning to romance.

But one East Coast pizzamaker believes the allure of its pepperoni pies will inspire couples to exchange wedding vows in its restaurants on Pi Day Tuesday.

Get it? They’re combining the concept of pizza pies with—well, the wedding part of the equation may be a stretch. But because the day affords a big fat opportunity to stuff ourselves with every conceivable variety of pie, more and more organizations are commemorating the annual event.

Pi Day was selected because the date corresponds with the first three digits of the mathematical symbol pi: 3.14. Coincidentally, it also happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday, as Beakerhead, a Canadian educational charity, noted this week.

Science and technology messaging

As you might expect, mathematically oriented institutions—NASA, Microsoft, science museums—have been tweeting about Pi Day for days. And if you sell any ingredient that can be baked in a crust, now’s your opportunity to newsjack—never mind the different spelling of your kind of pie.

As a PR move, acknowledging Pi Day seems to be an easy win. The pizza wedding stunt won coverage in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Hand out pies in a branch office, and you might just score a story in the local newspaper, at least if your office is in the circulation area of the West Plains Daily Quill.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology snagged 211,000 views for a video promoting March 14, which also happens to be the day it reveals its decisions on admissions. MIT seized the day to promote a message of diversity, featuring a student scientist playing a comic book character who designs a flying robotic suit.

Livestock breeders and outdoorsy types seem to have other kinds of pie on their mind on this great American holiday. Last year an enterprising Kansas rancher arranged his herd into a giant π symbol, inspiring a #CowPi hastag. Coconino National Forest in Arizona tweeted a picture of its Cow Pie Trail, apparently not a place where you’d want to hike barefoot.

Coverage of the day as a marketing phenomenon seemed to peak in 2014, judging from a three-second Google News search. Adage noted that “Just About Every Brand Wants a Slice of Pi Day,” while Inc. offered, “To Build a Cult Following, Look No Further Than Pi Day.”

‘Semi-crazy idea’

“Got a semi-crazy idea, and the need to convince huge numbers of people to adopt it?” Inc. asked. “Advocates for Pi Day are way ahead of you.”

Adweek noted that AT&T marked the day. Red Bull got the math right but seemed at a loss to tie it to a meaningful product message. Bing had a smart and brand-appropriate take that pushed its search engine capacities.

Way too many organizations were punning off Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” however. I’m guessing that some social media teams are closer in age to the interns than the chief executive. But come on, gang: Let’s strive for some creativity this year.

Pi Day is a natural for technology organizations. Microsoft advanced the day with a tweet that directed educators to classroom resources: “4 slices of STEM to get you ready for Pi Day,” a reference to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Wired used the peg to write about a project it created on Raspberry Pi, a credit card-sized computer.

I LOVE PI,” the author enthused. “No, not pie. Pi. The number. This crazy number shows up in all sorts of weird places. If you take the square root of the gravitational field (g = 9.8 N/kg) you approximately get pi. Place a mass on a spring and let it oscillate? Yup, you get pi.”

Try newsjacking that information.

Most organizations found it best to stick with food-related messaging. Nestle wanted you to celebrate by binge-eating its white chocolate key lime pie.

Stuffing your pie hole

Whole Foods, however, was hoping you’d stuff your pie hole with its fare.

Among other institutions, San Francisco’s Exploratorium got in on the fun, touting its microscope imaging station, a webcast and, of course, pie-eating.

While not every brand can make the case for a logical Pi Day connection, one New Jersey historical landmark sought to bridge the gap via Albert Einstein’s birthday. The world’s most famous physicist was also born on Pi Day and spent his last years in Princeton.

“Mum’s the word because it’s a surprise!” Morven Museum & Garden stated. “Party guests arrive at 10 a.m. and begin making a special Pi Day craft. Around 10:20 our special guest arrives and we all yell ‘SURPRISE!’ Birthday cake and funny stories by Albert Einstein to follow.”

Cake? Now, hold on here, Morven. I’m sure I read somewhere that Einstein was partial to white chocolate key lime pie.


(Image via)

Topics: PR


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