The Great Pizza War of 2010


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I’m absolutely amazed by what is happening at Domino’s Pizza these days. For those of you that don’t know, they recently changed their pizza recipe. That, in and of itself, is a pretty big step for a company that sold more than 400 million pizzas last year. It would be like McDonalds tinkering with the “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese…” that make up their Big Mac. Or maybe it would be like Coke reformulating… oh wait… anyhow, you get the point. It is unorthodox to say the least.

But Domino’s Pizza went one step further and publicly admitted their product wasn’t very good. In a series of shockingly honest commercials, Domino’s executives and chefs have owned up to their “cardboard-tasting crust” and “runny, ketchup-like sauce” and “rubbery, tasteless cheese”. They showed actual customers in focus groups confirming these admissions and the sad faces of the Domino’s product managers who were hearing this disappointing news.
Domino’s Pizza had a problem. Their product didn’t live up to the expectations of their customers in the marketplace. Rather than spin it or ignore it, they confronted it very honestly and transparently. Not surprisingly, no sooner did they find religion than they launched a holy war of sorts, namely through a very funny social media program that targeted the “puffery” or subjective, non-transparent, marketing claims of their primary competitor, Papa John’s Pizza. Spreading the word across Twitter, Facebook and YouTube — they’ve created a very clever and effective assault on the competition.
Transparency is the single greatest challenge most companies wishing to harness the power of social networks, and create a truly differentiating customer experience, will face. Hundreds of years of brand and marketing orthodoxy tell us that what Domino’s Pizza has done is a huge, galactic mistake. We never talk about the bad stuff, right? Not unless we’re in front of Congress, and even then… However, in a world where their customers are very openly talking about the failings of their products, companies can either come to that conversation openly, participate, improve, and rebuild trust, or they can be accused of puffery – and the conversation will go on without them.
Whether Domino’s gambit will pay off financially remains to be seen. They’ve made a very large promise to their customers about their new pizza, that they ultimately need to keep. However, their transparency and customer focus already has me willing to take a bite and that’s half the battle.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Stern
Richard Stern is Senior Vice President, Global Marketing for Jacada. Richard brings to Jacada more than 15 years of experience in successfully leading global marketing and new business development initiatives. Most recently, Richard served as Senior Vice President, Growth Telecom for SpinVox, a leading global speech technology company that delivers voice-to-text services for telecommunications providers.


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