Canned Ads: pretty much as bad as they think they are

FastCompany has a list (and voting!) for the worst canned ads of the last year.  I choose to ignore the Microsoft (Bing!) entry for now, mostly because I never saw The Shining (I know, don't start), so to me, it's not canned as much as whatever. OK? But I'll try to get to that one too. Nobody is immune from my snark.

I thought it would be fun to dissect these individually. At least until I get bored. Because honestly? That Domino's ad? It wants me to beat it over the head and drag it around in the dirt.


Culprit: Domino's Pizza

My relationship to the accused: I think I ate it 2-3 times at my neighbors house on those occasions where I couldn't convince them to order something else. Eh, let the kids have what they want. I'm sure I also ate it when I was in high school. But we weren't really a pizza-ordering household. So again, probably at someone else's house. I'm no expert on pizza. I try not to let the white carbs pass my doorstep. So, yeah. No loyalty issue here at all. Not sure if that makes me objective or completely outside of the target of this ad.

My critique:

1) Sympathy is not a marketing strategy. I see more contrition here than I do with Tony Hayward at BP. Jebus! I don't feel sorry for you for serving us yucky pizza (because I think what you are telling us is that you are serving us yucky pizza). Feel sorry for YOU? This ad really spends too much time focused on the negative and focused on Domino's, not the customer. I walk away with words like "cardboard" in my mind, now associated with Domino's. And I feel like a *** for ever eating it in the first place. You can talk about improvements and the haters will get the idea. But too much detail about what sucked and too much time putting employee faces in front of us and telling us how bad they feel. This is not putting the customer first!

2) If it tasted like crap, why did you let us eat it? Wait, wait....let me guess. You decided to make the change because your market share went down. What, you weren't tracking customer feedback before? You thought that fake cheese was OK before? You were willing to deprive young children of proper nutrition and polluted the environment by having it delivered by car to my door? See how that sympathy thing works? Call me a marketer. But whatever you do, don't call me a pizza connoisseur. Because it truly didn't taste bad to me. So yeah, now I feel stupid.

3) Congratulations on having a marketing department. That whole market research set-up? Yes, silly silly public. That is what marketing departments do. Feedback is a gift. Well, not really a gift when you pay for it. But it's something you come to expect; that you plan for, that you buy. It's how you know what to improve.Every company, every brand, has detractors. They all do focus groups. So this feedback, via Tweets (OK, a tiny bit of tech love here) and focus groups is pretty much par for the course. I suppose that you are trying to let us know that you hear us. Alright, alright. I think that perhaps a little less detail would be OK. And a little less surprise and "OMG, here's an idea; let's do something!" behind the scenes hoopla.

Look, I get it. That Papa John's dude is all over the place talking about his "fresh ingredients". And I'm not saying that Domino's is a bad company. I guess I just don't think that the "we suck and this is what we are doing about it" treatment is warranted under the circumstances. And mixing that with the faces of employees that now have to deal with this bad feedback and are going to rally for the cause (whee!) is a bit too much for me. There's too much of a pull for emotion there.  I think that a series of ads, maybe looking at where your ingredients come from and small changes that you are making; that would be good. It's just that I feel like I have been beaten over the head with this metamorphosis story.

Anyone else have an opinion on this one?

Comments (2)

  1. belmontej says:

    Haha to this blog post, you had me grinning at my computer.  I actually had no association with Dominos before these ads came out good or bad. But after all of the ads and the discussion about the ads when I think about what pizza to order Dominos does pop to mind just because of how much it has come across my line of vision over the past months. This campaign was done by Crispin Porter & Bogusky and “The agency’s philosophy holds that a campaign doesn’t truly succeed unless viewers are driven to talk (or tweet) about it,” so I guess, although I agree with you in some ways, at the end of the day it gets people thinking and talking about Dominos, with a few probably trying the pizza as well!

    Just my thoughts!

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    I see your point. Maybe. As long as the ads don't cannibalize or condescend to their already satisfied customers. The net/net needs to be growth in revenues less any damage done. So they may get a new customer like you (whose value is dependent upon their ordering frequency) and lose an old one. In this case, I think if you are a frequent orderer who was not calling Domino's because you thought their pizza tastes bad, and the ads convinced you otherwise, then I say +1 on the ads. Assuming they aren't losing customers.

    As far as poeple talking about the ads, I don't think it's always a good thing. It can totally backfire (Hello BP mea culpa light ads). In this case, when it's about how bad their pizza tastes (again, I'm not the person to judge…I think anything other than Chicago style is just OK), I am not sure it's good juju.

    But good points. Let's see what happens to their sales figures.

    I'm sure someone with an actual marketing background can tell us how to evaluate advertising efficacy somehow taking into account the cost of the advertising, the + or – effect on overall brand and the increase or decrease in revenues. Actual marketing people? Got some math for us?

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