Can we handle getting N_K_D?
A new pizza franchise has arrived in Dubai and has felt the need to tone down its name for the UAE. Seriously, is anybody offended by the name Naked Pizza?
October 25, 2010 3:46 by Samuel Potter
A new restaurant franchise has arrived in the UAE. Originally from the US, the Naked brand of pizzerias is opening its first venue in the region at Dubai Marina. The brand’s USP is that it serves “the world’s healthiest pizza.”In fact the website blurb describes it as Pizza 2.0, based on the thinking that pizza does not have to contribute to a global obesity epidemic.
Except that what’s arrived in Dubai is not Naked Pizza. It’s N_K_D Pizza. Showing a possibly admirable desire to respect local sensitivities, the company behind Naked has decided to censor its own name.
Now, a brand expanding into a new market has a right to call itself whatever it likes, of course, but Kipp had to question it: Is the UAE really a country so sensitive we can’t use the word “naked”?
We decided to put the question in our poll: Do you find the name Naked Pizza offensive? And we weren’t surprised by the response: 71 percent of Kipp readers either don’t find the name offensive (46 percent) or couldn’t care less (25 percent). Though we’ll admit, the 29 percent of people who do find it offensive and “totally wrong” caught us by surprise. Perhaps there are more sensitive souls in Dubai than we imagined.
The business decision behind this move remains flawed, if you ask me. The name N_K_D is meaningless – a slightly too clever collection of letters that wants to be smarter than it is. It wants to appear risqué, like it’s flirting with danger, but really it’s just a cop out. The name Naked at least has meaning – the pizzas are healthier, all natural and so on. Speaking to Xpress, co-founder of the New Orleans based company Jeff Leach explained as much: “People always ask the story behind our name and it’s simple. Naked means natural, so we don’t have any artificial additives or preservatives in our pizzas. Our pizzas are lifestyle pizzas for people who want to be healthy as opposed to dieting,” he said.
If the name change is really a move designed to show respect to the UAE market, I think it’s pointless.
But I think this has less to do with the sensitivity of the UAE population than with that of another, more lucrative, market. It’s the only reasonable explanation for the move here in the UAE: Naked has bigger ideas. The huge and more conservative Saudi Arabian market is more likely the company’s ultimate target; tempering the Naked name now will save them a regional re-brand later on, when their expansion begins in earnest.
The problem for me is, Naked Pizza has drawn an artificial line too conservatively. After all, it’s not like they have nude pictures in place of a logo. The move paints the region as being so conservative it can’t handle a simple word referring to the lack of additives in a pizza, and I really don’t believe that’s the case. Do you agree?