Menu Expansion: Domino's serves up chicken fillets

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Domino's pizza wants to give customers more reasons to spend more on every order, and to do that it's launching Buffalo Chicken Kickers, breaded, baked, white-meat fillets. The spicy sides mark the No. 2 pizza chain's entree to selling whole breast chicken, sales of which are already blazing through the quick-service hamburger segment.

Domino's will support the staggered rollout to its 4,800 stores with an extensive, integrated campaign, according to one executive close to the marketer.

A spot dubbed "Paparazzi" is set at the end of the red carpet in a storm of flash bulbs, where the star is the Domino's Pizza guy holding a pizza and the Kickers. Cut to hands splitting apart the steaming chicken breast and back to the delivery guy signing autographs. "Get a kick out of dinner tonight," a voice-over says after a super reads the "Get the door. It's Domino's" tag.

varied approach

As many as six TV spots, radio, print, coupons, digital media and in-store displays will tout Kickers, all of which still have to meet with franchisee approval, according to the executive. Domino's wouldn't disclose how much of its estimated $115 million annual media budget would go toward the effort, but one executive close to Domino's suggested it could be as high as $40 million.

"We're about convenience, delivery and hot, fresh food and the trends of sharing, hand-holdable, pop-able [food] and flavor come together in Buffalo Chicken Kickers," said Ken Calwell, exec VP-build the brand. It is Mr. Calwell's first product launch since joining the company in June 2001 from VP-new product marketing, research and testing at Wendy's International.

During that time, Domino's has led the pizza category in same-store sales. After ending 2001 with same-store sales up 4%, Domino's posted first- and second-quarter increases of 7.6%, and 4.2%, respectively. Top rivals Yum Brands' Pizza Hut and Papa John's International have seen flat or negative quarter-over-quarter store sales.

Meant to appeal to both men and women, the Kickers come with two types of sauce to either heat up or cool down the "bite" and come packaged in a specially designed box for grab `n go.

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