How Domino's carryout campaign turned into a 50-state infrastructure project
Each month, Ad Age creates and shares an exclusive case study with Ad Age Insider subscribers. Already an Insider? Instantly download the case study here. Or learn more about Ad Age membership levels and benefits here. This month, we’re taking a look at Domino's campaign to help budget-strapped municipalities repair damaged roads.
Delivery has always been at the heart of brand messaging for Domino’s pizza. But over the last few years, as new competitors emerge in the food delivery space, the brand has done more to court carryout customers too, sometimes in surprising ways.
In 2017, the brand began offering free pizza “insurance,” so that if a carryout pizza gets rained on, dropped or otherwise ruined before the customer can eat it, he or she can get a replacement. But longtime agency Crispin Porter Bogusky had an even more audacious (and hard-to-execute) idea: What if Domino’s could actually eliminate obstacles between the store and a customer’s home? What if it could fix roads, so that customers’ pizza boxes wouldn’t get thrown to the floor or jolted, causing the pizza to break apart or cheese to stick to the top of the box? That was the idea behind “Paving for Pizza,” the brand’s unexpected 2018 campaign to pave potholes across the U.S., all in the service of pizza.
“It was a little crazy. It was absolutely out there,” says Kate Trumbull, Domino’s VP for advertising and Hispanic marketing. “We, collectively as a marketing leadership team, worried about lots of things: ‘We don’t want to go political.’ ‘How can we get anyone to sign up for this?’ ‘Who’s going to say yes to a company paving potholes?’ ‘How do we make sure it’s a meaningful brand action, not a gimmick?’” Everyone was nervous—and that’s how they knew they were onto something.
A TV commercial advertised the program, and within three months the brand had received 137,000 submissions nominating municipalities with potholes that needed paving. Clearly, the campaign struck a chord.
Here are three marketing lessons from West Coast Editor Angela Doland's case study about the campaign:
Choose your cause wisely: Cause marketing is all the rage, but the cause should have a specific link to the brand or brand promise, says Kelly McCormick, CPB creative director. In this case, Domino’s fixed potholes because the potholes were ruining pizzas. There’s humor in that, too; this campaign wasn’t preachy.
Start small to go big: CPB “came to us with a pretty wild breakthrough idea,” Trumbull says. “There were a lot of questions and reasons why it couldn’t be done. We said, ‘Show us the way, prove it to us,’ and they came back with a comprehensive plan to start small and make sure to get a few markets signed up.”
Go beyond: Domino’s often goes one step beyond what a consumer might expect. The brand could have paved potholes in a few locations as a stunt; instead it took the campaign to all 50 states, attracting wide attention on social media and from media outlets of all sizes. So far grants have been issued to 47 states, and 32 of the projects have been completed.