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Our pizza didn’t taste good, Domino’s says in new ads

Domino’s incoming chief executive said the chain had to be honest about its pizza in order to win back customers. Domino’s incoming chief executive said the chain had to be honest about its pizza in order to win back customers. (Domino’S via Associated Press)
By Ashley M. Heher
Associated Press / January 12, 2010

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CHICAGO - For a pizza joint, it’s a bold move to tell customers your crust tasted like cardboard and your sauce was like ketchup.

But that’s just what Domino’s Pizza Inc. has been saying since last month in untraditional ads about the recipes it abandoned when it launched its reformulated pizza.

As industry observers scratch their heads, the company’s incoming CEO said the chain had no choice but to be honest about its old recipe pizza if it had any hope of winning back customers.

“The old days of trying to spin things simply doesn’t work anymore,’’ president Patrick Doyle, who will become chief executive in March, said in an interview.

The TV ads offer glimpses of focus groups and Twitter messages where customers said Domino’s pies were even worse than microwave pizza and “totally void of flavor.’’

The ads then cut to interviews in the Ann Arbor, Mich., company’s test kitchen, where chefs and executives tout the new pies.

While unusual, highlighting mistakes in an ad campaign can win over consumers - but only if the majority agree the product was faulty in the first place, said Kevin Lane Keller, a marketing professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

But Deborah Mitchell, executive fellow at the Center for Brand and Product Management at Wisconsin School of Business, said the campaign may cause confusion in the marketplace because people have known Domino’s for having a quick, 30-minute delivery, not for flavor.