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Honestly Annoying

“For twenty years, we made Pizza that tasted like cardboard. We’re sorry, but until now, Domino’s really didn’t care, er… know.” (Actual Employee)

If this kind of statement makes you pick up the phone and ask for instant delivery of the “new recipe” pizza, then you might be exactly the person that Crispin, Porter + Bogusky had in mind when they launched the new “Pizza turnaround” campaign for Domino’s Pizza. The target: Changing the perception of Domino’s as being great on service, but lousy on taste.

It’s not that I am not able to appreciate apologetic advertising. Mercedes-Benz once ran a faboulous campaign after one of their new compact cars had just careened of the road in a test drive. The idea: learning from failure makes true greatness. But this? Similar on the surface, but oh so desperately asking for love in the detail.

“Did we actually face our critics and reinvent our Pizza from the crust up? Oh yes we did.”

The mix of Obama-speak, on-camera self-flagellation, cheesy jokes and fake fistpumping made me squirm. But it also made me think -- and write about it.

The tactics behind the campaign make a lot of sense, if you want to succeed in social media. Obvisouly, the dangerous stunt of going 180 on a 50-year-old recipe provides a prefect occasion for all kinds of brand experts. The discussions about parallels with the “New Coke” fiasco of 1985 alone fill entire pages of google already. Also, dropping PR that suggests the recipe makeover was influenced by Facebook and Twitter comments, tips a big big hat to the online community. The same crowd, of course, that is supposed to spread the campaign later. And of course, any discussion started by haters brings forth a brand’s fanboys. And there are many. You might not expect it from the initial hoopla, but Domino’s is No. 1 in customer satisfaction among pizza chains.

But let’s forget about Domino’s for second. It seems that CPB has created it’s own new recipe: How to cook up buzz. And the main ingredient is: irritation. Making you scratch your head in bewilderment seems to have become their life raft of choice in an ocean of oblivion. The underlying insight probably goes something like this: “It’s a whole lot easier to irritate people into posting than to fascinate them into doing anything else.” Buzz simply doesn’t need to be pretty all the time.

CPB’s run of successfully embarrassing us into consumption started with the mildly vexing “Routan Boom” (Brooke Shields!). Then the legendary Windows Party acheived heights of aggravation hitertho unknown to mankind. And now -- Dominos’ Pizza Turnaround. A piece of advertising that tastes like cardbord.

They all make you cringe… but in an inspiring and moving sort of way.

Check it out at: www.pizzaturnaround.com

2 Responses to “Honestly Annoying”
  1. I must tell you this is the fourth time I have come across your blog and I am lovin it! I added your website to my rss reader. Cant wait to see more updates!

  2. Flo says:

    Das ist nicht wirklich deren Ernst, oder? :)

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