Sometimes our interns refuse to go away, and honestly, that's freaking awesome. Our former intern, Ashly, actually started this piece over the summer - then reminded me about nine times since that I kept forgetting to post it. --George
Pizza is a serious slice of American culture. According to pizzaware.com, about 93% of Americans eat some form of it at least once a month. The gooey goodness is currently a $35 billion dollar industry that continues to grow each year, and its marketing tactics are everywhere.
I admit it. I’m guilty of shouting, “Get the door, it’s Domino’s!” when the delivery girl comes with a steaming hand-tossed crust topped with pepperoni and green peppers. I’ve even probably done a little “Papa’s in the house!” dance when the pizza boy shows up with a spicy Italian specialty. Can you blame me? I’m a college student. Pizza ads always manage to find me. I am assaulted by the “Oh, Big Papa” jingle and that tacky gold Camaro on a daily basis.
You've probably noticed that recently Domino's gave their pizza, as well as their advertising strategy, a delicious makeover. Two successful branding ingredients I can appreciate. The franchise took a fresh approach to anti-competition advertising through a deconstruction of the food marketing industry.
A campaign that revolves around exposing traditional marketing tactics is relatively new for the food industry. However, it has been executed elsewhere. The Dove Real Beauty campaign and thetruth.com ads (check out their Shards o’ Glass Pops ads) are just a few examples.
Critics are actually referring to Domino’s latest tactic as the “Real Beauty” campaign, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Dove’s award-winner. Domino’s uses TV spots to reveal the secrets of food styling for print and television ads. Their YouTube channel offers a more detailed look at torching pepperoni edges and bolting pizzas to tables in order to get the perfect cheese pull.
The mission of this particular campaign is to generate a sentiment that Domino’s pizza doesn’t need to be retouched or plastic in order to make your mouth water like the competitor’s pizza. I have to admit, when I first saw this commercial I flashed to the disappointment of once opening a box of Papa John’s. I felt betrayed by the toppings on the delectable print ad that caused me to order it in the first place. Let's just say, sausage is not supposed to look like animal droppings.
Domino's looks like the better brand by shining a light on the fraudulent-type advertising competitors use. Now this strategy is supposed to build stronger brand loyalty by allowing consumers more control over the communicative relationship they share with the franchise. Has it worked? Well, the photo contest has thousands of entries. I can appreciate advertising that works. However, I don't think it's spectacular. I assume consumers feel they possess a better understanding of marketing tricks and have developed a stronger trust that Domino's won't be pulling a fast one on them. But as far as I'm concerned, Domino's has done just that. It seems smart. The anti-advertising sentiment is a scheme in itself. It's all marketing, but people are still falling for it.
When the hype is over, there will just be another reason to change the pizza and resurrect the brand. The real proof is in the pizza. The taste has changed, but not dramatically. They brushed a little garlic and herb butter on the less baked crust to battle the popular "cardboard crust" complaint and gave the sauce a little kick with red pepper and of course, more garlic. The next time they change their recipe, it will be because the crust is too doughy, the sauce too spicy, and it's the number one cause of bad breath. As the taste of this campaign gets stale, so will the consumer sentiment.