By Lloyd Graff
I was shocked by the current ad campaign by Domino’s pizza in which company president, Patrick Doyle, clearly states that the pizza that made the company billions of dollars is awful. He’s changed the crust, the sauce, cheese–everything, but kept the 30 minute delivery and the price.
This is a bet the farm gamble for Domino’s, a company that started with Tom Monaghan schlepping pizzas to college students at Eastern Michigan in a Volkswagen. Monaghan became very rich, bought the Detroit Tigers baseball team and started his own law school. He bought a farm outside of Ann Arbor to house the offices and test kitchens that supported his enormous international franchise empire that sold Domino’s rather mediocre pizza. Monaghan sold out in 1998 and Domino’s is fighting Pizza Hut and Papa John’s for market share. Now Doyle comes in and proclaims the company’s core product to be crap.
The company had such chutzpa they put a link on their Web site to a clip from Steven Colbert’s the Colbert Report in which he gives a hilarious yet stinging analysis of the product it’s known for.
What a crazy gamble. Is this New Coke or Schumpeter’s creative destruction? Will Doyle’s gamble lead the company to new heights of pizza adoration? Too early to tell, but the audacity of building a marketing campaign based on tearing down your core product is inspiring. I must admit I’ve thought of doing something like what Doyle is doing now regarding Today’s Machining World’s old Web sites. Honestly, I believe our early Web sites were mediocre, but I held my tongue. There have been many issues of TMW that had a lot of typos or poorly executed photos, but I haven’t built an ad campaign decrying past mistakes.
To err is human. To live is to fail. But to bet the company by proclaiming to your loyal customers they have been eating cheesy swill is a risk I could not stomach.
Question: Would you have the guts to do what Domino’s did?