On January 11, the Associated Press released a story by Ashley Heher about Domino’s new ad campaign, in which it shares Tweets and what appears to be actual focus group footage of people saying less than kind things about Domino’s pizza — cardboard crust, sauce that tastes like ketchup, flavorless cheese and the like.
We then hear from Domino’s President Patrick Doyle that Domino’s has heard what its customers are saying and doing something about it by reformulating their pizza.
Ms. Heher’s article goes on to quote marketing experts, some of whom offer cautionary tales regarding this kind of advertising and how it might cause confusion among otherwise loyal customers.
I don’t know whether these marketing gurus are right (and in fairness, they do not purport to know either, they only cite examples), but I applaud what Domino’s is doing.
In social media these days, people talk about brands whether brand management likes it or not. If customers do not like a brand they frequently will say so. So, Domino’s cannot keep people’s evaluations of its pizza a secret.
How might Domino’s manage against this? How might it maintain or grow revenues, when its customers say its product is sub-par?
Traditionally, Domino’s strength has been its fast, hot delivery, not the quality of the actual pizza. According to a news segment I watched, Domino’s still rates number one in delivery and service. But it is about sixth in pizza quality. Moreover, for the first three quarters of 2009, its U.S. year-over-year same-store sales are down. Fast, hot delivery may not be enough.
Apparently, Domino’s management thinks not. So they’ve let customers know they are listening by sharing with customers what Domino’s heard through its monitoring and research. And they have come up with a new and improved product.
I can’t tell you whether it really is better. That’s for Domino’s customers to judge. Whether Domino’s is successful in reversing its sales declines remains to be seen. But they deserve credit for listening to their customer’s complaints, publicly acknowledging them and then changing the product in an attempt to fix it rather than just turning up the volume on their advertising. I would like to think that, rather than just a clever ad campaign, this is an example of the kind of transparency I’d like to see from all organizations.
So, I applaud the gesture.
For as most of us who help organizations communicate know, more often than not, the problems they face are not the result of poor communication but of poor products and services. Bravo to Domino’s for addressing the core problem rather than the window dressing and for being transparent about it.

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