Monday, January 25, 2010

Is Domino’s Dissing Its Customers?

Domino’s Pizza, the nation’s second largest pizza chain, recently launched its new formulation in a flurry of media, both traditional and online. What I found extraordinary about the whole marketing campaign was its focus on how awful Domino’s old recipe was, describing the “classic” Domino’s pie as “mass produced, boring, bland,” with a taste like “cardboard” … worse even than microwave pizza.

Some people love the ads; others, not so much. In that last group are the perplexed Domino’s customers who actually liked the old pie. “… They are basically saying, ‘We've been shoveling you crap for years and now we want you to trust us,’” said Kelly O’Keefe , managing director of the Brand Center at Virginia Commonwealth University in a recent AP interview.

I totally agree. Suggesting that you’ve been cheating your most loyal customers for the past 50 years by selling them a second-rate product is just not the strongest platform for future growth.

On the other hand, the company’s new CEO, J. Patrick Doyle, has said, “The old days of trying to spin things simply doesn't work anymore. Great brands going forward are going to have a level of honesty and transparency that hasn't been seen before”

How can you argue with that?

Generally considered a leader in delivery and value, Domino's has indeed taken some hits when it comes to taste. The ads are definitely eye-catching. And so far, the publicity pay-off has been impressive, including endorsements of the taste of the new pie by, among others, all five hosts of CBS’s Early Show and Stephen Colbert , who said that the new Domino’s pizza tastes “like an angel giving birth in your mouth.”

It’s a risky approach — and not one I’d recommend to a client — but it just might work. We’ll have to wait and see.

Technorati Tags: Domino's pizza, pizza,
J Patrick Doyle, Stephen Colbert,communications, public relations, Makovsky

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