NEW YORK (AP) — It's part flatbread, but also part pizza. So Subway naturally called its latest offering the "Flatizza."
Since the pizza-like creation made its national debut last month, its inelegant combination name has provoked a good deal of snickering. As NPR put it in a satirical column, the name is "embarrassing to say when you have to order one." Others are simply stumped over how to pronounce it.
"It's flah-TEE-zah," explained Tony Pace, Subway's chief marketing officer, in a phone interview. Later in the conversation, he adopted a caricature of an Italian accent when saying it and punctuated the word by making a sound as if he were kissing his fingers.
As funny as the name may sound to some, it gives Subway a way to brand a product that might otherwise seem run-of-the-mill — and sear it into the memory of potential customers.
That's especially true considering flatbread pizzas have become so common, with chains such as California Pizza Kitchen and Olive Garden using them as a way to seem trendier.
"At the end of the day, a significant portion of marketing is about differentiation," Pace said.
It's not unusual for big companies to have their own lingos, of course. McDonald's, for instance, offers McNuggets, McWraps, McMuffins and the McRib. And Subway is no slacker in the Department of Made-Up Words; among its creations are "Footlong" and the "Sub-tember" and "Janu-ANY" promotions that run in September and January, respectively.