Torture pays: Hell Pizza’s ‘Angry Dragon’ leads to sales surge

In a 2008 paper, neuroscientists Siri Leknes and Irene Tracey concluded that pain and reward processing involves many of the same regions of the brain. And while this doesn’t necessarily make us all sadomasochists by biological obligation, the success of Hell Pizza’s ‘Angry Dragon’ campaign suggests that there certainly is some truth to this.

Over the course of the campaign, a total of 3,526 pizzas were attempted in under two weeks, resulting in the use of 63.25 kilograms of ghost peppers, which measure one million Scoville heat units, and 87.1 litres of Dragon’s Fury Sauce.

This was Hell’s second sell-out campaign of the year, following on from the rabbit pizza campaign that was promoted through a range of rabbit felt billboards.  

“Not only were we astonished by its popularity, we were amazed by how many people actually made it to the finish line,” said Hell general manager Ben Cumming.

Those who were able to successfully consume the fiery treat received a full refund of the cost of the pizza, a pair of dragon slayer undies, a dragon slayer certificate and inclusion on the in-store Hell ‘Wall of Flame’. 

Cumming says that early tests on employees didn’t leave the organisers optimistic that many people would be able to finish the pizzas.

“None of us even came close to eating a whole snack pizza and we were all in agony for hours after,” he said. “We anticipated selling around 2,000 units over the course of the month.”

By the end of the campaign, 960 pizza eaters, presumably with palates made of stone, were able to slay the dragon and were honoured on the ‘Wall of Flame’ and on the Hell Pizza Facebook page.

The campaign resulted in Hell’s best day and week of sales in its 18-year history, and Cummings was particularly impressed by the level of customer engagement via social media.

“It was awesome to have customers sharing videos and images of their mates giving it a crack and, from seeing those who attempted and suffered from it,” he said. “I don’t think they’ll be forgetting the Angry Dragon for a while.”

And this isn’t the first time that Hell Pizza’s torture of customers has resulted in record sales. In 2012, the pizza chain’s ‘Pizza Roulette’ campaign resulted in so many sales that the company had to stop taking orders for the first time in its history.  

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