Pizza in 30 Minutes ... or More? Domino's Touts Slower Delivery

Chain Finds Some Consumers Don't Equate Speed to Quality

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Thirty minutes or... more?

Domino's has touted speedy pizza delivery for decades, but the pizza chain's newest campaign actually promotes a slowdown, specifically thanks to the preparation of its pan pizzas -- and the fact that some consumers don't equate speed with quality.

Some people "still see us as the guys who make pizza really fast. ... What we recognize is that no matter how much we talk about quality, [some consumers] feel like speed of making pizza does not equal quality," said Chief Marketing Officer Russell Weiner. He said the company found in its research that consumers equated a slower preparation and delivery time with pizza that's of higher quality and is better tasting.

The TV spot, created by Domino's agency CP&B, begins with vintage Domino's clips promoting the chain's speedy delivery and "30 minutes or less" mantra. Franchisee Robert Gavitt then comes on the screen and says: "Domino's used to be all about speed. Not anymore."

In addition to TV, the campaign will also include digital display ads, paid search and social media efforts.

Though the pan pizzas take longer to prepare and cook than their traditional pizzas, it's not actually that much more time -- a minute or so. But Mr. Weiner said that from an operational standpoint, that was a huge change. Domino's didn't need new equipment for the product, but it did require that one oven in each store have a slower conveyor belt. "This is only a minute, but this is probably the most difficult minute for Domino's."

Domino's launched its pan pizza in October last year with a spot that featured CEO Patrick Doyle calling out Pizza Hut in all but name. Though the company has declined to provide specifics on how well the pan pizza, which does not have a frozen crust and has nearly twice as much cheese as other Domino's pizzas, has performed, Mr. Doyle said in the chain's 2012 year-end earnings call that "it helped drive higher sales, as well as increased traffic into our stores, something that's a key metric for us."

Previous attempts at a Domino's pan pizza were unsuccessful. The first time it launched pan pizza was in 1986, back when the chain had its 30-minutes-or-less guarantee. Mr. Weiner said in October, when Domino's launched that iteration, the longer baking time proved to not fit with the chain's premise. In 1997 it tried a more deep-dish pizza that arrived at the stores partially baked; that effort failed as well.

Domino's backed away from the 30-minute-or-less guarantee in the early 90s after lawsuits emerged related to car accidents and drivers. Since Domino's launched its reformulated pizza in late 2009 its marketing has been promoting quality.

Domino's last year spent about $197 million on U.S. measured media, according to Kantar Media, up from $185.5 million the prior year. Kantar did not break out the spending for the pan pizza. Domino's 2012 U.S. same-store sales were up 3.1% and fourth-quarter same-store sales -- the quarter the chain launched pan pizza -- were up 4.7%.

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