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Why It’s Important for Brands to Support A Cause: President and CEO Mary Jane Riva Offers Tips in Franchising USA Article

Recently, Mary Jane Riva, president and CEO of Pizza Factory wrote a contributed article for Franchising USA on why you should support causes as a brand. At Pizza Factory, we understand the importance of supporting causes with our No Bully Zone initiative. Check out the piece here:


Risky. Bold. Purposeful—three words that describe the most successful brands today.

If you’ve thumbed through Instagram posts or watched television ads lately, you’ve likely noticed that the content is more authentic. To bolster the public’s trust and appear more human, companies are finding unique ways to be socially conscious and support initiatives that aim to make the world a better place.

Nowadays brands have the opportunity to use their power and influence to stand for something or stand for nothing. If you’re wondering why your brand should take a stand and how, here are three reasons why being bold can end up strengthening your company:

Support Your Mission

Whether you’re hosting a company-wide donation drive for a national charity or publically commenting on a hot button issue, these authentic actions will help position your company as socially responsible and supportive of community endeavors. Plus, when you align your actions with a cause that’s reflective of your company values, it’ll further support your brand mission. If you’re wondering where to start, reflect inward on your founding principles for inspiration and creative opportunities to make a difference.

At Pizza Factory, we pride ourselves on being the go-to neighborhood spot for families and friends. As a brand, we dubbed our family-friendly restaurants No Bully Zones, meaning we don’t tolerate bullying on our property— and this is message is printed everywhere. We even print tips on how to deal with bullies and uncomfortable situations on our napkins and uniforms. When you acknowledge bullying head-on by not allowing it to happen, everything changes and that’s why we’ve made it a standard across all of our locations.

We do our best to make sure our managers, hourly staff and the rest of our teams are on the same page when it comes to treating others with respect, and the best way to do this is through new employee orientation and training. Beyond the anti-bullying aspect, our larger message is strongly tied to a better treatment of other through kindness and acceptance. It’s our hope that by setting an example with our positive teams and our No Bully Zone policy, that we can always be the go-to for families and communities looking to relax and grab a bite to eat.

Engage With Community

Besides reinforcing your company’s core values, taking a stand on societal issues (when appropriate) can be a great opportunity to interact with your fans and potential customers. In fact, nowadays, people want brands to speak out—a 2018 study by Cone/Porter Novelli found that 71% of Americans expect companies to connect with them emotionally on issues that matter to them personally.

For Pizza Factory, the signage, napkins and other messaging about the No Bully Zone prompt a lot of questions from our guests, which is great because we’re able to open up a conversation with them about the issue. And, it’s our hope that the conversation continues around the table when we walk away. After implementing the No Bully Zone, we’ve heard guests say they feel more comfortable dropping kids off with their friends knowing they’re in a welcoming and positive environment.

But the No Bully Zone is not only awesome for guests, it’s also great for employees. Mentorship is a huge part of career development at Pizza Factory. So, when we hire younger adults and students, we view it as an opportunity to positively shape and influence a person. It’s our hope that all of our employees are inspired by our No Bully Zone and that they take those values with them wherever they are.

Make a Difference

Considering the amount of public influence a brand has, it’s most important to consider the effect our actions can have on the world.

I’ve had several employees come forward and express that seeking employment with Pizza Factory was partially due to the anti-bully atmosphere, which is awesome. We even had one staff member make a video about the No Bully Zone covering their volunteer work.

For our most recent initiative, we’ve been donating “Friends are Awesome” benches as a way to extend our anti-bullying message into the schools. We personally travel to different Pizza Factory markets, visiting elementary schools to present them with a symbolic bench and to speak to the importance of friendship and inclusion when the kids are at an impressionable age.

In the end, being bold and voicing your opinion on important matters can be an effective way to strengthen your brand and open the door for a deeper, emotional connection with your customers. As leaders, we have an undeniable, powerful opportunity to make a difference through our words and actions—so make sure you’re standing for something.

Mary Jane Riva is the CEO of Pizza Factory. Founded 30 years ago, the brand has become well known for serving fresh, high-quality pizza, sandwiches, salads and more. Pizza Factory brand is also widely recognized for its close community connection, which includes its iconic “No Bully Zone” program and impactful fundraising partnerships.