Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Are dumb customers helping Domino's?

I was flipping through a recent edition of Canadian Business magazine yesterday when I came across an interesting tidbit. Apparently, Domino's has completely reformulated its pizza. It happened way back in January and I vaguely remember it, but it obviously didn't register. I try to stay on top of fast-food news, so naturally I'm ashamed of myself for initially missing it.

There are a couple of fascinating tidbits about this situation that make it more than just your typical "new and improved" story. First off, here's the long-form commercial posing as documentary from Domino's that explained the change:

What's obviously striking about the switch is that Domino's broke a cardinal rule of advertising: in quoting customers saying its pizza tasted "like cardboard," the chain admitted its product was below average. Not surprisingly, the unconventional ad campaign got a lot of media attention when it was rolled out, which perhaps counts as a success for Domino's. Indeed, according to the Canadian Business tidbit, the chain saw first-quarter U.S. sales go up 12%.

What's even more interesting, though, is that the new-and-improved pizza was U.S. only, and from what I can tell, it remains that way. Domino's in Canada, for example, has different ownership and its outlets are therefore not required to use U.S. recipes, according to the Vancouver Sun. Either the media has simply failed to report the international expansion of the new U.S. recipe, which is doubtful, or the rest of us are still eating the old cardboard stuff.

I can understand trying to make waves with an unorthodox advertising strategy, but isn't this a little overboard for the company? Is Domino's hoping that people in other countries don't realize it has acknowledged its original product to be crap? And if that's the case, why do people outside the U.S. still eat Domino's pizza? Would we still drive cars if the makers told us they were junk, or would we buy a pair of shoes if the retailer said they were shoddy?

Ultimately, I'm not sure who's more to blame for the illogic of the situation - Domino's or its non-U.S. customers.

UPDATE: I got a tweet from Domino's in the UK - they say they've always used a different recipe than the U.S. I've never had Domino's in the UK, so I can't say whether that's a good or bad thing.


Post a Comment