Domino's Apology Video Isn't Going to Erase Those Images

By Published on .

Poor Domino's.

It will be very difficult for anybody to order a sandwich or a pizza there for, say, the next 200 years without imagining a curl of cheese being stuck first in the cook's nose. Or worse. This thanks to two nincompoops and their YouTube video about their zany food-defilement high jinks.

Putting aside for a moment how these rascals possibly believed they could punk their employer without losing (at least) their jobs, the whole thing is just so unfair to the chain. Not because no Domino's employee ever does something repulsive with the ingredients but because the incidence of food defilement is surely distributed among chains, and non-chains, as evenly as can be.

Marketer: Domino's
Agency: In-house
Domino's responded by trotting out its president, Patrick Doyle, in a YouTube video with approximately the same production values as the one at issue.
If you're going to avoid Domino's because God knows who just hawked a loogie into your Cheesy Bread, you may as well stay away from Quizno's, too. And McDonald's. And the diner around the corner. When you fill the crappiest minimum-wage jobs with adolescents and other bottom-tier labor, you will get your share of the anarchic, the embittered, the antisocial, the goofy and the just plain stupid.

None of this knowledge does Domino's the slightest bit of good. This episode has nothing to do with statistics or with logic. It has to do with images -- i.e., farting on the salami slice -- that, fairly or unfairly, will be associated with Domino's for a long time to come.

So what's a multinational pizza slinger to do?

At times like this, everybody goes to the case histories, which lead inevitably to 1982, when some sociopath killed seven Chicagoans by lacing Extra Strength Tylenol capsules with cyanide. Johnson & Johnson, itself a victim of the crime, was widely hailed for acting quickly, removing all of the product from its shelves and making all subsequent versions of the product tamper-proof. After watching the brand's market share plummet immediately from 35% to 8%, J&J recouped its share within a year.

Alas, you can't triple-seal a pizza.

Nonetheless, Domino's was under pressure to respond, and respond it did -- by Twittering like mad and trotting out the president of Domino's USA, Patrick Doyle, in a YouTube video with approximately the same production values as the one at issue.

"Recently we discovered a video," he said, sounding tired and sad, "of two Domino's team members who thought that their acts would be a funny YouTube hoax. We sincerely apologize for this incident. ...

"Although the individuals in question claim it's a hoax, we are taking this incredibly seriously. ... The two team members have been dismissed, and there are felony warrants out for their arrest. The store has been shut down and sanitized from top to bottom. There is nothing more important or sacred to us than our customers' trust."

Etc., etc. Auditors in stores, re-examination of hiring practices, restoring trust. Doyle says the right things. But:

1) "Team members?" Doesn't an episode like this point to the glaring ridiculousness of Corporate Speak? Wouldn't this be a time to let it go?

2) Sure, they had to act quickly, but couldn't somebody find this dude a teleprompter? He's looking off camera as he reads his script. Why? If ever there was a time for eye contact, this is it.

3) Why no newspaper and TV ads? The Twitter and YouTube response is all well and good, but this story is everywhere. It cannot be contained on the web, and it cannot be contained by the web, either.

Poor Dominos, yes -- but not too poor, we hope, to invest in its ongoing reputation.

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