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11/01/2010 by

Domino’s: The Pizza Turnaround

Last year fastfood group Domino’s Pizza had a tumultuous public relations nightmare, when two employees from a North Carolina Domino’s Pizza franchise posted several gross videos on YouTube on April 15, 2009, which gained worldwide notoriety. Bloggers uncovered the identities of the employees, who later were arrested and jailed for food tampering.

Domino’s USA President Patrick Doyle response on YouTube in April 2009

The vast YouTube community was revulsed seeing the videos, yet watched anyway. Within a day the clips had been viewed about 200,000 times. The videos were reposted on other sites. By April 15, the number of views soared to nearly 1 million.

On April 16, local and national newspapers and broadcast outlets, like the Today Show, began calling to get the story and replayed portions of the original video, causing more people to view them. The removal of the video from YouTube turned out to be complicated, so the pizza chain decided to shoot a two-minute apology video apology from Domino’s USA President Patrick Doyle and posted it where the whole thing started – on YouTube.

“We had been fighting fire with water” Domino’s spokesman McIntyre said. “Now we needed to fight the fire with fire.” The Domino’s response video (now set to private) has been viewed 650,000 times, while the original videos, now taken down by YouTube but still available elsewhere, have been viewed about 2 million times.

In an article later that month spokesman McIntyre told the San Francisco Chronicle: “Would we do it again? Yes. It helped us get the word out. While it did expose more people to the issue, it also said Domino’s Pizza is taking this very seriously and that the thing we hold dearest is our customer’s trust.”

Now 8 months later the pizza maker releases a surprising new campaign advert just after the holidays and on the eve of its 50th birthday, entitled Pizzaturnaround, created by Crispin, Porter + Bogusky. In a four-minute YouTube video documentary Domino’s CEO J. Patrick Doyle tells the public it has listened to its harshest critics and made the push to launch a completely revamped pizza, with new recipes for both its sauce and dough.

The pizza is a response to the “Domino’s ‘haters’ of the world, who don’t hesitate to bash us on blogs and in social media sites everywhere” Patrick Doyle said. The pizza maker spent about $75 million on development and marketing of the new pizza, according to an estimate by Forbes magazine. So maybe Dell Ideastorm and MyStarbucksIdea weren’t that bad of ideas after all ūüėČ

U.S. Pizza Business
Pizza companies everywhere are wrapping up a tough decade after a heady 1980s and 1990s, said Harry Balzer, vice president at NPD Group, a market research firm based in Port Washington, N.Y. Americans are still eating pizza, but the weak economy has ushered many people to the frozen food aisle because microwaveable pizzas are less expensive than delivery.

Domino’s same-store sales have been flat, forcing the company to close 108 stores in the U.S. The company, along with Pizza Hut, Papa John’s and Little Caesars, controls close to half of the pizza industry, which is expected to remain flat at $38 billion, according to the trade magazine Pizza Today.

Enjoyable to watch: Stephen Colbert on the pizza company and the Domino’s Pizza Turnaround Spoof

Source: Forbes, AdAge, Comedy Central, Socialmediab2b, Detnews

About the author

Paul van Veenendaal (34) is an all-round marketing professional from the Netherlands with 12+ years of online experience and co-founder of ViralBlog. Currently Paul is working at Starcom Amsterdam as Social Media & Communnity Consultant for Honda, Samsung, GSK, Redbull, Heineken and Nintendo.

You can connect with Paul via¬†Twitter, LinkedIn,¬†Hyves,¬†Facebook, Weibo,¬†Pinterest,¬†¬†or send him an email at¬†[email protected].

Read Paul’s articles on Viralblog.


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Comments (6)

  • Daan Jansonius 11/01/2010, 19:05

    Whilst it is great they are listening to feedback and actually using it to improve their products, that video is up there with some of the worst corporate propaganda I have seen.

    I can’t believe that over 200,000 have actually sat through that!

  • Igor
    12/01/2010, 00:44

    Have you seen this one? Alpha Dog of the Week – Domino’s Pizza?! A very painful video review..

    Maybe it’s not only about great ads, great products can be important too :-)—domino-s-pizza

    This was sent to me by Yam from , so thanks!

  • Glenn Gajewski 12/01/2010, 00:52

    Yeah it was boring, but at least they did something about it and fought fire with fire. Hey their pizza might even be good now!!

  • Matthijs Roumen 12/01/2010, 11:42

    I agree with Daan. How could 200.000 people actually watch this? It has a shouting “Domino’s is awesome!” line written all over it.

    Good thing they’re listing to their focus groups and monitor online though.

  • Tony Loftis 14/01/2010, 20:28

    Well, I think you missed what Domino’s really did to fight back. While they issued the an apology on YouTube, the place most of the marketing muscle in the company’s traditional marketing channel, television advertising.

    They launched a national ad campaign, highlighting a pizza competition among different regions in the country. Effectively, it showed that Domino’s employees could be trusted to make spectacular pizzas.

    True, the YouTube video received two million hits, but many more people saw the video on national television. Those same people saw Domino’s response, a very clever ploy of showing employees that care about the product, over national television, the way most Americans get their information.

  • Daan Jansonius 14/01/2010, 22:39

    It’s not about the reach of the video but the actual creative execution – it’s a lame, corporate video.

    And I’d argue that TV is far from the most trusted source of information for anyone, whether they are in the States or not.