Domino's Bold Ad Strategy: We're No Longer Bad

Pizza chain admits it wasn't great before, but touts new recipe

For the past few years, the fast food industry has taken its swipes for poisoning the nation’s arteries and turning us all into giant blobs of profusely sweaty humanity.

Domino’s Pizza took it to a new level in the 1980s with a 30-minute or less deliver policy that meant we did not have to move to get food that was bad for us. Domino’s was the first big chain to base their entire business off of bringing food to your home. And it treated them well. Your scale? Not so much.

Of course, millions of other restaurants now deliver as well, so it’s not enough for Domino’s, these days, to merely be a convenient source of pizza. And many frozen pizza brands, particularly DiGiornio’s, have taken the strategy of saying their product is just as convenient as delivery, but hotter and better tasting. All that has dug into Domino’s market share. Now, if you want people to order from you, your food has to be, you know, GOOD.

And that’s what makes the new Domino’s Pizza Turnaround campaign such an intriguing development in the ad business. The chain realized that, in order to get more customers, they had to change their product. Now, usually when a company improves a product, they roll it out by saying, “Hey! It’s new and improved! You loved this crap before! Now you’ll double love it!”

Not Domino’s. Rather than ignore the past, the chain has chosen to fully expose the old flaws in their product. For a very long time, Domino’s pizza has been lousy, and they’re now ready to admit that. In the main video on their website, they include feedback from customers savaging the taste of their pies. “Cardboard.” “Flavorless.” “Bland.” All of this feedback is presented with stark music, as if you’re watching a war documentary. The head chef of Domino’s professes shock at the feedback. Apparently, he didn’t realize that Domino’s was juuust a step below Totonno’s.

The rest of the movie is typical corporate rah-rah stuff, with Domino’s employees gathered around in circles and cheering before heading out to deliver your pizza.

But the striking thing about this campaign is the stuff up front, where the company lays the honest truth out there for all to see. It’s striking to see a company acknowledge the reality of how crummy their product was, and make what appears to be a genuine effort to do something about it. So Domino’s has changed their pizza, and allowed customers to leave feedback on their site about it. Most of this feedback appears to be unfiltered. There’s plenty of negative comments about the new pies (many Americans, lest you’ve ever dined out in a strip mall, LIKE their food bland and flavorless). There are also plenty of positive comments as well.

It leaves you curious about at least giving Domino’s new pizza a chance. And that’s precisely the point of the campaign. Maybe you will like it, maybe you won’t. But you need to know that it’s different. And hopefully an improvement. Hey, there are SIXTY PERCENT MORE HERBS in the sauce! That has to mean something! This kind of openness is welcome in this day and age. It’s almost enough to make me want to try the new Domino’s myself. If there weren’t a clearly superior Vace pizzeria right nearby.

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