Monday, January 4, 2010

Domino's Effect

Domino's Pizza is finally coming clean.

They've admitted, finally, what most of us have known to be true for decades: they have an inferior product.

Domino's is done trying to pull the wool over everyone's eyes; they're unveiling a new product---new sauce, crust, cheese, the works. TV ads are on the air now, with the dirty laundry there for all to see---and hear.

It's like Big Boy's saying their Slim Jim has been a fraud all these years. Or McDonald's sheepishly acknowledging that the Big Mac isn't all that.

Domino's, though, has pretty much done one thing and one thing only for most of their 40-plus years of existence. And now they're admitting that they couldn't even do that right.

I haven't had a Domino's pie since the 1980s, I reckon. It was the pie of choice in my dorm at Eastern Michigan University, because the joint was close and they offered up some ridiculous deals, like a large pizza with one item for three dollars. Pittman Hall was crawling with Domino's delivery men in those days, circa 1981-82.

The Detroit Tigers have been owned since 1983 by two men who made a lot of dough---pun probably intended---with a decidedly inferior pizza pie: Tom Monaghan (Domino's) and Michael Ilitch (Little Caesars). I've crabbed about Mr. I's pie in this space before.

I'm amazed that it took Domino's this long, frankly, to reinvent themselves, what with the glut of pizza hawkers around town.

But this isn't some New Coke marketing trick. Ann Arbor-based Domino's is changing, and I don't think there'll be a hue and cry to change back.



It's hard to put my finger on why I was never thrilled with Domino's pizza. Plus, it's been so long. But I do recall thinking that perhaps you'd be better off consuming the box in which it came.

This is serious business, to the tune of a $75 million ad campaign to say, basically, "We're sorry!"

"A lot of people love us, but some people think we can get better," says Domino's Chief Marketing Officer Russell Weiner. "We listened to them, and we changed our pizza."

Good for them, even if it's some 20 years overdue. But I think Weiner has it backwards: some love Domino's (though I'm dying to know who they are and if they've ever tasted another pizza before), but a lot think they can get better.

Domino's admits now that they've been selling garbage, essentially, for decades. Now if we could only get our government to do the same thing.

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