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.


The Power of a Red-Lacquered Sole

Red-soled Louboutins

You hear the click-clack sound of a woman walking into a meeting. She sits down and crosses her legs just enough to the right for you to catch a glimpse of her red-lacquered soles. You give an almost instinctual once-over, looking closer at her dress, her posture, lipstick– who is this woman? The unmistakable mark of the red-soled Louboutins ups her intrigue.

Louboutin secured the rights to the red-lacquer sole in 2008 and took YSL to court over the latter’s introduction of an all red shoe (including the sole) to their collection. The verdict? Louboutin can exclusively use red soles except for instances when the whole shoe is red.

This win for Louboutin made it official– the red sole is theirs. “Generally speaking, colors don’t function as trademarks,” adds New York Law School professor Dan Hunter. “But they can with enough use, enough marketing, and enough consumer recognition. Which is what happened with red-soled Louboutin shoes.” Another example of a rare trademarked color is the Tiffany blue.

Check out J Lo’s ode to the brand below:

Consumers see brands as part of themselves, and the red soles are an inexplicable part of the Louboutin brand story. Ultimately, the red-soles are then a part of the consumer’s identity, at once embodying sexy and fierce.

As stated by Adweek, “Women don’t drop $1,000 on a pair of CLs because they happen to like red under their feet; they do it because they like what that red represents. ‘I talked to a very successful businesswoman about this the other day,’ relates Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute. ‘And she said, ‘Of course that red sole matters. It signals to the world that I wear Louboutins—a top-of-the-line shoe. It [says] I’m a successful woman, and I bought these myself, that I’m powerful—and still feminine.’”

The Christian Louboutin brand equity is high, and I mean really high. Walking on red is about power and personal integrity, and for many women that’s $995 well spent.

What do you think about the message embedded in the red-soled Louboutins? Let me know below!

Hired or Fired: Dove Real Beauty Sketches

Have you seen Dove’s newest commercial for its “Real Beauty” campaign? The campaign has been garnering mixed reviews over what some critics consider a double-sided message and others consider a real message that finally speaks to real women. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” below:

On the one hand, the video has powerful moments that illustrate the stark difference in how women perceive themselves and how others perceive them. It is calling attention to the low self-esteem that many women have and asking them to change that and this commercial is unique in that vein.

On the other hand, the message of the video is contradicting in that Dove is selling products with what Jennifer Pozner of Women in Media & News calls

“its own underlying philosophy: cellulite is unsightly, women’s natural aging process is shameful, and flabby thighs are flawed and must be fixed… oh, so conveniently by Dove’s newest lotion… As’s Rebecca Traister put it, the message is ‘love your ass but not the fat on it.’”

Other critics have challenged Dove’s use of the term “Real Beauty.” Starre Vartan of Mother Nature Network says that the message in our culture that is being regurgitated in this ad is simply that girls are not valuable without their beauty.

“Brave, strong, smart? Not enough,” she says. “You have to be beautiful. And ‘beautiful’ means something very specific, and very physical. Essentially every movie and TV show and commercial shows us that, right?”

“I should be more grateful of my natural beauty. It impacts the choices in the friends that we make, the jobs that we apply for, how we treat our children… It impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to our happiness,” says a woman in the ad.

But what exactly does she mean by natural beauty?

In this ad, it seems to represent physical attractiveness. Is that what Dove considers “real beauty” to be? Vartan says, “It doesn’t matter what other merits a woman posses, if she is not conventionally attractive, she is essentially worthless… And my primary problem with this Dove ad is that it’s not really challenging the message like it makes us feel like it is.”

What are your thoughts on the term “Real Beauty?” How do you think the message of the campaign is contributing to Dove’s brand story?

Honda CR-V: When Consumers Become Co-Writers

Post Advertising recently wrote about Noah St. John, a fifteen-year-old who delivered an emotion-packed spoken word poetry performance. He relates intense emotional experiences, all centered around his Honda CR-V.

Noah’s performance is a reminder: Sure, Honda can create their side of the story, alter the texture of their seats, ads, Facebook posts and tweets, but there is ultimately another side to that story that is continuously being written by those who are interacting with their brand. And Honda got a pretty great co-writer. Noah’s story even got tweeted by both Neil Patrick Harris and Debra Messing as “an absolute must watch.”

Honda did not sponsor this video. This is authentic content that is completely unassociated with the brand, which makes it that much more appealing to the audience. As Jon Thomas of Post Advertising points out, this isn’t another thirty-second clip that I avoided; it is a six-minute video that I didn’t want to end. The part of a brand story that is written by consumers is powerful , often more powerful than the brand’s own efforts will ever be.

“There are too many reasons that my mommas found love in each other’s presence. There are too many moments when we are unbreakable. And in this moment, we are one family, constructing roads as we go, burning bridges behind us, adding mileage like graceful aging, driving in our CR-V towards moonlight.”

I mean, come on. This is gold. Through this story, Honda cars transcend their bounds as objects. His Honda is the vehicle of his mothers’ love– for each other, for him– it is their comfort and excitement. After hearing the story, our link to the brand is ultimately altered and we are connected to Honda through the raw and exhilarating lens of fifteen-year-old storyteller, Noah St. John.

Currently, Honda has just given Noah a Facebook mention. Do you think Honda should be giving his performance more attention? Let me know below!

What’s My Story?

I’m Leemor, a New York native currently finding my way through Baltimore as a Johns Hopkins University senior. I’ve always understood that everyone and everything has a story, but as I grew older that understanding morphed into fascination. If I didn’t know the stories, then I wrote them. Once I came to Johns Hopkins as a Writing Seminars major, I quickly became hooked on the marketing courses. During a lecture one Tuesday afternoon, my marketing professor, who was explaining branding, looked at the class and said, “Everything has a story,” and I thought, yes, exactly.

It was then that I realized that brand storytelling is essentially the marriage of my major and my minor. The questions of brand storytelling—“how do we resonate with customers?” “What’s our brand’s purpose?” “Are we connecting with our audience?”—are identical to the questions of writing –“ how do we resonate with readers?” “What’s our story’s purpose?” “Are we connecting with our readers?”

My research into brand storytelling has led me to create this blog. Here, I hope to offer a fresh, young perspective on the different ways that brands tell their stories. I would like for my posts to provide engaging material to make you (and myself) look twice, and, if I’m lucky, maybe even a third time.