Domino’s Odd Way of Selling Pizza

DominosLogoHere’s a random observation accumulated by watching far too many hours of sporting (and sports-entertainment!) events over the past couple of years: Domino’s has a strange theory on what kind of advertising will make people want to buy their pizza products (or, if you prefer, “pizza-like” products).

Here are some of the puzzling strategies:

1. We are really bad at making pizza:  The first step down this bizarre path was an advertising campaign featuring Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle in which he admitted that Domino’s had (has?) terrible pizza, but that the company vowed to do better.  The ads included some comments from Domino’s head chef (I know, I was just as surprised as you were), who felt a little insulted by the whole thing, but nonetheless promised to improve.  Here’s a mini-documentary that includes a lot of the footage used in these ads.

There were also versions that addressed poor service and delivery.

That was a fairly bold move, and certainly a memorable one.  But Domino’s didn’t stop there.

2. Franchisee unrest: This long-running series of spots was premised on the idea that the Domino’s corporate braintrust was dissatisfied with not only its company’s (well-earned) reputation for making mediocre pizza, but also with the deals available to the customer.  Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle appeared as the “Good Cop” to franchise owner Scott Boyle’s “Bad Cop” (the fact that their names rhymed only upped the weird vibe).

Boyle would express perpetual frustration at the unfavorable deals he was forced to give customers at the insistence of corporate.  Doyle would laugh and indicate he had customers’ best interests in mind.  The campaign culminated in the two finally meeting, but, sadly, not fighting to the death in hand-to-hand combat.

3. Our employees are too incompetent to take your call:  Continuing the tradition of sending self-deprecating mixed messages about the business, Domino’s next stroke of marketing genius was to encourage people to use its online ordering system because its employees were too stupid to take phone orders.

You’ll note that, during this commercial, the actor playing the Domino’s order-taker (1) confuses two similar-sounding names, (2) can’t use the “hold” function properly, and (3) is uncertain as to whether one or both participants in the call is “in a tunnel.”

Is this really a good idea?  Marketing yourself as an organization with franchises populated by folks who think taking a phone call is too tall an order (no pun intended)?  I mean, what you’re saying to the customer is “Hey, you can’t trust these imbeciles to take a simple phone call.  So, be sure to use our online ordering system!  Then, uh, the aforementioned imbeciles, um, will be handling and cooking the food you’ll eat.”

4. There’s nothing special about our product:  The latest variation on this theme is a campaign that flat-out says that even the new, improved Domino’s pizza will not “make your weeknight special.”

Instead, the ad explains, “It’s what you do with [your evening] that will [make it special].”

Ok.  So . . . why am I buying your pizza?

To recap, Domino’s has a tradition steeped in mediocrity, both in terms of product and service, has poor relations between corporate and its franchises, has employees so bumbling that they believe taking a phone call is a difficult task, and have a pizza that will have no impact on whether you have an enjoyable evening.  Furthermore, the company is only too happy to spend millions of dollars on advertising that explains all of these facts to consumers in painstaking detail.

I’m not sure how one would categorize those talking points, exactly.  Definitely not what you would call a “hard sell.”  Either way, all of it leaves me with one simple—if unlikely—thought.

I miss the Noid.

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4 Responses to Domino’s Odd Way of Selling Pizza

  1. George says:

    Pretty sure the employee taking the phone orders is being politely non-plussed when the caller asks him if he’s in a tunnel. I personally infer that to mean Dominos thinks I am too stupid to realize that the Domino’s location I’m calling is in a static location and wouldn’t be subject to changes in cell signal. Which is still not a good message to send to customers. “You’re dumb, order online so you don’t slow us down.”

  2. Bill W says:

    I thought it was weird too but figured that they had to respond to their poor feedback. Shouldn’t they be commended for not lying to us?

  3. Matt Gilliam says:

    Still a better ad campaign than the Noid. Note that Radio Shack is going with the “we know our stores have sucked recently” campaign which must have been created by the people who did the same for Hardees a few years ago.

    • Tom Garrett says:

      I think it was also damage control because they knew they would be closing 20% of their US stores. Huge number.

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