Between You and Me, There's PR

Exploring, learning and using social media, public relations and marketing.

Slamming your own brand: Does it work? March 16, 2012

I’m going to be honest, every time a Domino’s commercial comes on TV it makes me cringe. Ever since a video of two uniformed employees “messing” with a pizza went viral in 2009, Domino’s has fought big to stay as a front runner in the pizza business.

Following the viral video incident, Domino’s received high props for their reaction to the crisis through both traditional and  social media outlets. That same year, the company decided to listen to its customer’s complaints about the quality of the pizza and did a complete reinvention.

The new pizza resulted in the launching of an entire new campaign and website called The Pizza Turnaround. “You can either use negative comments to get you down, or you can use them to excite you and energize your process,” Patrick Doyle, President of Domino’s, said in “The Pizza Turnaround” documentary.

I think this is brilliant. I love that they reinvented their pizza and listened to their customers. What they did, and how they did it make for a great case for any marketing and public relations person to study.

Here’s what makes me cringe: the fact that they have criticized their pizza, chicken AND cheese breadsticks. What’s left to hate about Domino’s?!  Every time you turn on the television they are slamming another one of their products. The campaign began at the end of 2009 which means they have spent over two years marketing how bad their product is, sorry, was.

It’s like Domino’s has a gambling problem. They took a risk and went “all in” by re-inventing their pizza, but instead of walking away with a success story, they keep gambling. At some point, they are going to lose.

Today, Business Insider tweeted a story that caught my eye for the same reason. Internet Explorer recorded an advertisement that straight-up bashes their product. Um, it’s hilarious. I love it because I also told my parents to stop using Internet Explorer, like the guy in the video. My concern is that while it is a humorous video, it takes 45 seconds before the IE bashing stops and the new and improved IE is mentioned. Even once it is mentioned, no discussion of what makes it better is ever announced. Instead, they feature a cat in a police officer outfit to end the video- which, is random.

So does this strategy work? Something must be working because an article earlier this year in National Restaurant News states that Domino’s will continue to focus marketing on improving its product rather than using marketing tie-ins.

What do you think about slamming your own brand? Is it beneficial? I think it is a scary gamble and a company must really analyze their full strategy before going “all-in”.


3 Responses to “Slamming your own brand: Does it work?”

  1. Danielle Says:

    ” Domino’s will continue to focus marketing on improving its product rather than using marketing tie-ins.”

    Don’t be fooled. This IS marketing. It isn’t addressing customer service issues in public…. it is a marketing strategy. Take what people say about us and turn it around for our advantage. To say it isn’t a ‘marketing tie-in’ is bologna. Do not most of the commercials about the bad pizza or not cheesy enough cheese bread come with a promise of new, tastier items? And sometimes for a promotional price? Sure they do.

    Dominos is out to sell pizzas. And other stuff. This is how they are doing it. It’s definitelt marketing strategy.

    – Danielle Hohmeier
    Online Marketin Manager at Atomicdust

    • Danielle- just to clarify what Domino’s said, here is the excerpt from the article I referred to:

      ‘”For the near future Domino’s will continue to focus its advertising on new products aligned with the corporate goal of continually improving its offerings, as reflected in current commercials for the chain’s new Stuffed Cheesy Bread,’ [Russel] Weiner said. He added that he would keep the emphasis on the brand and its products, rather than fall back on marketing tie-ins, because he considered that “borrowing equity” from some other brand and not emphasizing Domino’s strengths.”

      I definitely agree that this is a marketing strategy. It stemmed from slipping sales and negative publicity. Their solution was to reinvent themselves and their product based on what their consumer research advised and was accompanied by a marketing campaign to promote the change. After the success of their new pizza they have continued to do it with other products, but at this point, it just feels too gimmicky to be sincere. It’s easy to see through their “we suck, feel sorry for us” campaign.

  2. yoakleypr Says:

    I find Domino’s new marketing and brand management campaign to be very encouraging. It shows a clear desire to engage with consumers, humanize the buying experience by putting a face behind their product, and deliver a better service.

    To be honest, I eat their pizza a lot more often than I used to because it has raised my opinion of it through this open doors campaign.

    (Found you via LinkedIn)

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