Is Domino’s the “New Coke”?

Many of you probably remember the Domino’s fiasco of last April when two employees made a rogue video pretending to put disgusting things in the pizza.

The employees were fired, the video was removed from You Tube and the company issued a statement reassuring people on the quality of their food (and their employees).

If you missed the incident, it’s summarized in this video from the Today Show.

Well, a quick 8 months later, Domino’s is creating it’s own viral campaign with this video called “The Pizza Turnaround”.

My question is whether this effort is an effective authentic response, or whether it goes too far in it’s apologetic tone.


My feeling is the latter.

Rather than simply talk about taste improvements (a thing that every food brand does from time to time), it makes too much of a point on the dissatisfaction of the old recipe.

But what if I wasn’t dissatisfied?

What if I actually kind of liked the old Domino’s?

All fast food can be improved.

But my expectations from Domino’s were more in the camp of decent food, great value, quick delivery.

After watching this video, I feel kind of silly for eating it before.

Boy my standards must be pretty low for putting up with “cardboard crust”.

Where is the acknowledgement of the things that were right with the pizza (in deference to what must be millions of loyal consumers)?

I applaud their willingness to open up the kimono. But I think they’ve gone too far by saying the product was “horrible” and now they’re making it better.

It makes me wonder if they might find themselves in a “New Coke” situation where they will have to re-issue Domino’s Classic for people who were  OK with the pizza before.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

What do you think of the Pizza Turnaround?

7 thoughts on “Is Domino’s the “New Coke”?

  1. I agree with your assessment, Julie, that this makes me feel stupid for liking their old pizza, but I think they could have balanced this with just a few positives for their “old” fans. The interesting thing is that while many of us are constantly telling companies to be more inclusive, transparent, conversational, whenever somebody tries a new tone, we are rather critical of the effort. So, for me, the bottom line, is that Domino’s should be applauded for the effort and encouraged to keep trying new conversational frontiers.

  2. Being a New Yorker, and accustomed to local “pizzeria” pizza, I have rarely dabbled with the Domino’s & the Pizza Hut’s of the world. I had Domino’s ONCE as a Freshman in college and it was brutal, never ordered it again, and have never been a fan. I have long thought Domino’s Pizza is awful and why would ANYONE eat it. But then I forget, there are people who love Pizza outside of New York! 😉

    To see them throw it all out & start over, it works for me. Having said that, this ad campaign does nothing for me in terms of trying their brand again. But, as a reasonably-intelligent consumer, I can appreciate where they are coming from.

    I was a bit young when New Coke came out, but if memory serves, New Coke tried to fix what wasn’t broke, and that was classic Coke. From this ad, it clearly seems Domino’s had done enough homework (read: focus groups) and decided to make some changes because their product was taking a beating.

    I don’t think Domino’s will suffer much backlash on this at all; as a matter of fact, with his earnest mid-western accent, I think their CEO will have viewers “eating” out his hands (sorry, about that!).

  3. I agree and think they have gone too far in criticism of their old pizza. They say they’ve had to change everything and now they have real cheese and ingredients like oregano! It makes me really doubt their credibility when the chefs who have been there for 25 years so readily criticise their old pizza and say how much better their new pizza is – you wonder what they’ve been doing for 25 years and how they never thought to make a better pizza or use better ingredients in that time..!?

    But! I’m really a ‘pizzeria’ pizza person too – and people who buy Domino’s are buying it for the value and convenience equation and small variations in flavour are exciting and new. I’ve no doubt that with Domino’s customers, being told it is ‘new and improved’, it will create a enough of a new news story and buzz and that will drive re-appraisal and they’ll soon agree that this pizza is much better and Domino’s has finally listened to them – even people who never complained before will probably now agree it did taste a little like cardboard. It may receive some backlash, but a little negativity will serve the overall campaign as well – and if they’re smart they might even start it themselves.

    The whole ‘new and improved’ angle is a simple model that many brands have successfully applied for years. It’s just that Domino’s have been much more transparent about it and have chosen a much more interesting medium – it will no doubt pay dividends. Kudos.

  4. @Peter, @Gareth, @Gregg thanks for the comments. Seems like the consensus so far is overall good idea and effort. Should get viewer’s interested in trying. But perhaps a little too much upfron trashing of the old formula. Could have been a smidgen more balanced (e.g. a clip or two of positive comments from the focus groups?).

    Any one else have a different twist?

  5. Is Conan the “New” Coke?

    Is Jay Leno Coke Classic?

    What’s to become of this formula change?

    Formula changes are dangerous.

    Remember Schlitz?

    Happy “New” Year.

  6. I applaud Domino’s new approach. To Peter’s point, we as consumers always look for companies to be more real, more open. So the basic direction works for me, but I also agree that I almost feel like a schmuck having eaten Domino’s before. What’s perhaps more concerning, is that I just had Domino’s pizza a few days ago (yes, I admit it), and sadly, I didn’t taste any difference… perhaps all the new cheeses, herbs, spices and secret ingredients have not made it to all of their franchises, although the TV spots have certainly made it into every home in America.

  7. Julie, this was the first thought to pop into my head when I saw Domino’s new ad. Besides the obvious “don’t change the formula if it works” lesson, I think the New Coke fiasco taught us a greater lesson…you can’t magically change perceptions by changing the product. Coke was old and Pepsi was young, a change in the formula wasn’t going to change this perception. The same is true for Domino’s:

    Domino’s stands for cheap. Nobody orders Domino’s for a great-tasting pizza. If they start selling themselves as a high quality pizza maker, then they open the floodgates to new, far superior tasting competitors.

    Domino’s stands for fast. “30 minutes or it’s free”. That is the promise that enabled Domino’s to change and dominate the pizza game.

Comments are closed.