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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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: J.C. Penney’s Apology

The drastic changes in J.C. Penney‘s pricing policy keep on coming. The company has been ping-ponging from a higher base price with more couponing, to a lower base price without couponing, and then back again. Sound confusing? It did for their customers as well.

J.C. Penney’s CEO Ron Johnson was fired last month and, according to some, much of it had to do with him “confusing JC Penney for Apple.” As Dan Newman puts it, “when was the last time you’ve seen an iPad on sale?” The two companies have completely different DNA, and the muddling of J.C. Penney’s brand story created confused and unhappy customers.

Remember Domino’s apology? This is another brutally honest rendition of a brand owning up to its mistakes and simply saying to customers: we’ve changed, come back to us.

Check out J.C. Penney’s “It’s No Secret” ad below:

“Come back to J.C. Penney, we heard you. Now, we’d like to see you.”

Do you think J.C. Penney is on the road to recovery or is the “It’s No Secret” campaign further contributing to the brand’s wavering identity? Let me know below!

Adidas and AT&T Show Support For Boston Bombing Victims

The Boston bombings have awoken a certain strength across our nation that can only arise from tragedy. Every relationship grows stronger after certain battles have been fought together and this one is no exception.

All proceeds from Adidas' Boston Stands As One shirt benefit the victims of the Boston Marathon attacks.

All proceeds from Adidas’ Boston Stands As One shirt benefit the victims of the Boston Marathon attacks.

Social media has proven to be a strong source of support for those connected to Boston with a storm of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts that swept up our feeds. Extra marathons are being set up in Boston’s honor and performances are being dedicated to the victims. There is an overarching sense of community that has taken hold of us and that makes us want to seek out good and the good we can create.

Even brands are getting involved in the support for Boston. According to Adweek, Adidas declared that it will donate all proceeds from the sale of a limited edition T-shirt to The One Fund Boston, to honor victims of the Boston Marathon attacks. Boston Beer Co. will donate all proceeds from the sale of a special brew. John Hancock financial company, Bain Capital, Partner Healthcare and AT&T have all pledged $1 million to the fund.

Photograph by Shannon Stapleton, Reuters Boston Marathon runners (left to right) Lisa Kresky-Griffin, Diane Deigmann and Tammy Snyder stand with their arms around each other at the entrance to Boylston Street, blocked off a day after the two bombs exploded.

Photograph by Shannon Stapleton, Reuters
Boston Marathon runners (left to right) Lisa Kresky-Griffin, Diane Deigmann and Tammy Snyder stand with their arms around each other at the entrance to Boylston Street, blocked off a day after the two bombs exploded.

Ultimately, these brands are writing themselves into one of the strongest stories in the nation right now–the story of loss, solidarity and support.

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 Salon.com’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?

Grey Poupon: The Classy Condiment

High-class. Sophisticated. Exclusive. All words we use when describing the Oscars, Meryl Streep and Grey Poupon mustard.

Wait, what?

For years, Grey Poupon has marketed itself as “one of life’s finer pleasures.” In 1981, its famous “Pardon Me” advertisements garnered a lot of attention.

More clips can be found here and here. The movie “Wayne’s World” even parodied the commercial.

Omar Kattan of Brand Stories spoke about the way in which Grey Poupon has “masterfully carried their storyline into the digital age.” He praises their “Spread Good Taste” campaign, which included one of the first ever endeavors where a company actually turned away Facebook fans. To qualify to “like” their page, fans had to fill out an application to become a member of “The Society Of Good Taste” and have their profiles screened (points were taken away for bad grammar).

Recently, the Krafts Foods brand premiered the revival of their legendary “Pardon Me” ad at the Oscars as “The Lost Footage.” “It’s the classiest award show of the year, so it’s very in line with the brand,” said Sara Braun who heads Grey Poupon at Kraft Foods. The new commercial puts an action-packed spin on the old one, complete with a car chase and a champagne revolver.

Leaked footage of the video was released before the premiere for buzz and anticipation. The brand continues the orchestration of their exclusive brand story with a storm of tweets before, during, and after the awards show.

What do you think? Is Grey Poupon the classiest condiment to date?