The Domino’s Pizza Turnaround

The 2009 Domino’s pizza scandal was a nightmare for the company. After two employees uploaded a video of themselves tainting Domino’s food onto YouTube, the brand quickly took a hit. At first, Domino’s laid low and ignored the media hype. However, as Scott Hoffman, the chief marketing officer of the social-media marketing firm Lotame said, ‘in social media, “if you think it’s not going to spread, that’s when it gets bigger.”

Enter the 2010 Domino’s Pizza Turnaround Campaign. Michael Margolis of Get Storied, refers to the tactic that Domino’s used as the tragedy genre of brand storytelling, or “the classic redemption storyline.”

The video starts with the big wigs of Domino’s admitting to the pizza’s low quality taste and customer dissatisfaction. They really bare it all. One Domino’s employee reads off a comment card, “worst excuse for pizza I’ve ever had,” and “the crust tastes like cardboard.”

This honest and exposed route of transparent marketing allowed the company to admit to their weaknesses in order to ultimately gain the consumer’s trust. As Seth Godin says, “…great stories agree with our world view. The best stories don’t teach people anything new. Instead, the best stories agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feel smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place.”

Once that security and connection is established with the company, Domino’s describes its plans to revolutionize its process. “We changed everything… the crust, the sauce, the cheese…this is what pizza should be,” a Domino’s chef says.

A significant aspect of The Pizza Turnaround is an emphasis on the Domino’s story. The beginning of the ad features Domino’s President Patrick Doyle playing the role of storyteller. “It was about fifty years ago when they started the first store just five miles from here,” Doyle says. Mack Patterson, a franchisee, reminds us that Domino’s was the first pizza store to deliver pizza in thirty minutes or less. The Domino’s employees are shown working as a team, with group huddles and exciting taste tests.

Suddenly, the disconnected franchise serving mass-produced cardboard pizza became a relatable, genuine family trying to serve the best pizza they could. The scandal was forgotten, and Domino’s reestablished itself as the legacy of two brothers with a dream. Not to mention, sales went up 14% in the campaign’s first quarter.

And that, my friends, is the power of brand storytelling.

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2 thoughts on “The Domino’s Pizza Turnaround

  1. Wonderful insight into how companies can “rebrand” themselves. This is an interesting case where the company didn’t have to change their name (WorldCom) or their product name. The marketing department obviously justified its incredible costs here.

  2. Hi Russel,

    I agree. In this case, Domino’s successfully created a brand story that allowed them to both overcome their scandal, and create a more profitable, responsive company. WorldCom (now Verizon), is on a slightly different part of the playing field after filing the nation’s largest bankruptcy case in July 2002.

    Thanks for your input!

    -Leemor

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