Highlighting Great Marketing Strategy: The Resurrection Of Domino’s
It may have been the first documented Social Media PR Disaster. And while it didn’t take long to go viral, we’re pretty sure the word didn’t spread in 30 minutes or less.
Yes, we’re talking about the infamous 2009 YouTube video featuring two Domino’s Pizza employees making some disgusting additions to a pizza order. In what would become a common development, the mainstream media quickly picked up a new media-based story, and suddenly Domino’s executives were watching brand perception go through the floor as they were recording their own YouTube video apology.
It was the final topping—the rancid anchovy, if you will—to a bad year for Domino’s. The recession was slamming the pizza industry hard, the company stock and delivery sales were down, and Brand Keys research showed Domino’s pizza tied for last place with Chuck E. Cheese’s offerings in customer taste tests.
Wow. They couldn’t even beat a pizza business that had a mouse for a mascot.
But Domino’s was also getting a new CEO then: J. Patrick Doyle, who quickly went on offense by getting his company involved deeper into social media marketing as a way to help turn the brand around. That move helped set the stage for the bold strategy Doyle and his chief marketing officer Russell Weiner employed at the end of 2009 (http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2009-12-16-dominos16_ST_N.htm).
A new marketing campaign actually had Doyle admitting in TV spots that some customers thought Domino’s crust tasted like “cardboard” and the sauce was akin to “ketchup.” So the company revamped its core pizza recipe, in the process rebranding itself while generating some positive media coverage for its transparency strategy.
Herbs, garlic and red peppers were added to the ingredients, and Domino’s was also seen as having a very spicy proactive strategy in taking on a branding threat.
The result? Some three months later, Domino’s had boosted its profits and existing store sales were up (http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/earnings/2010-03-02-dominos_N.htm). That momentum continued into 2012, with the company announcing major international expansion plans as it remains competitive with chief rivals Pizza Hut and Papa John’s.
Thanks to an unusually honest marketing campaign, and the realization that social media can be its friend, the company that helped build its national reputation with a “30 minutes or less” delivery promise has actually managed to deliver itself from PR hell.