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Domino's Reacts Cautiously, Quietly to YouTube Gross-Out Video

PR Headache as Employees Tape Themselves Shoving Cheese Up Nose

By Published on . 17

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- A couple of Domino's employees are suggesting that the chain's subs have a secret ingredient. In a video posted on YouTube last night, two youths identifying themselves as Kristy and Michael besmirch a pair of sub sandwiches and the pizza chain's reputation. Michael inserts pieces of cheese into his nose and waves pieces of salami behind his backside. Both the salami and the cheese are placed on the sandwiches. The video had gotten more than 21,000 YouTube views at press time.



"In about five minutes these will be sent out and somebody will be eating these -- yes, eating these," Kristy says in the video. "And little do they know that the cheese was in his nose and that there was some lethal gas that ended up on their salami. Now that's how we roll at Domino's."

Dominos spokesman Tim McIntyre said the chain has identified the employees, and they are expected to be terminated today. The affected franchisee has filed a criminal complaint, and Mr. McIntyre said Dominos is examining its own legal options, including a possible civil action against the pair for defamation of the brand.

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"Any idiot with a webcam and an internet connection can attempt to undo all that's right about the brand," he said, adding that Dominos has 125,000 employees in 60 countries and a loyal following. "In the course of one three-minute video, two idiots can attempt to unravel all of that."

With the rise of social media, Dominos is far from the first company to deal with off-script employees. Burger King fired an employee for bathing in a kitchen sink and then posting a video of the deed.

Mr. McIntyre shared an apologetic e-mail from Kristy: "It was all a prank and me nor Michael expected to have this much attention from the videos that were uploaded!" she wrote. "No food was ever sent out to any customer. We would never put something like that on you tube if it were real!! It was fake and I wish that everyone knew that!!!!"

Despite her protests of innocence, it seems Kristy and Michael made a series of videos, which the blog As Good As You has collected. In one, Michael appears to sneeze on cheese sticks. In another, which is not safe for work, Michael wipes his bare backside with a dish sponge.

Only so much a marketer can do
Mr. McIntyre said the chain is looking into what can be done to prevent this in the future, but there's only so much a marketer can do. "You can be the safest driver, you know," Mr. McIntyre said. "But there's going to be that Friday night someone's drunk and comes from out of nowhere. You can do the best you can, but there's going to be the equivalent of that drunk driver that hits the innocent victim."

He said the company decided not to issue a press release or post a statement online. After all, he said, the company can deal with tens of thousands of impressions, but a strong response from Domino's would alert more consumers to the embarrassment.

"This is something that's increasing in prevalence," said Eric Karofsky, principal strategist at Watertown, Mass.-based Molecular, an interactive-design firm, adding, "Marketers need to be prepared." He said consumer outreach is key to combating damage from these types of hijinks.

Mr. McIntyre, however, said the company decided that such a response would be akin to "putting out a candle with a fire hose."

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