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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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?

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.