'Stranger Things' Actor Plays a Modern-Day Ferris Bueller in Domino's Campaign

John Hughes' Classic Character Now Played by Joe Keery, With a Pizza Tracker

Published On
Mar 20, 2017

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Domino's Pizza is going old school to tell a modern story about delivery, with a series of spots that updates the '80s teen movie classic "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" for a modern-day audience.

When the John Hughes film was released in 1986, the title character did not have a smartwatch, a tablet or even a flatscreen TV. But if the character played by Matthew Broderick were around today, he might have known exactly when to rush to arrive home after a day of pretending to be sick in order to skip school and bond with his friend and girlfriend. At least that's how Domino's has spun the tale, now starring "Stranger Things" actor Joe Keery as Bueller, in a new campaign from CP&B that marks the chain's latest tech-focused push.

The pizza chain was looking for a unique way to promote its Domino's Tracker technology, which allows people who have ordered to know how their order is coming along and when to expect it. The tracker has followed more than 100 million orders since it came out in 2008, Domino's said.

CP&B was mulling how to show someone making it home in time for a delivery, knowing when the pizza would arrive thanks to the tracker. Those who recall the movie (31-year-old spoiler alert) recall Ferris running over hedges, through backyards, up a jungle gym onto a trampoline, through a house and elsewhere as he tried to beat his sister and parents home. Many but not all of those moments are recreated in an online video.

"We know that customers find the Domino's Tracker to be a fun part of ordering from Domino's, so we tried to capture their excitement in this new ad," Karen Kaiser, Domino's VP-advertising, said in a statement.

The campaign will likely resonate with an audience of a more current hit as well. Actor Keery is best known for his role as charming bad boy Steve Harrington in Netflix's "Stranger Things" (and who was born six years after "Ferris Bueller" debuted).

"We knew for sure that that actor that was going to take the place of Ferris Bueller, he had to be great," said Tony Calcao, exec VP-exec creative director, CP&B.

He and others at the agency are "Stranger Things" fans who thought Mr. Keery would be great for the role, and he said Mr. Keery quickly came on board and often did his own stunts.

"Ferris Bueller" fans will also likely recognize Alan Ruck, who played Cameron Frye, this time appearing as Ferris' father in a more modern red Audi.

Shorter versions of the online video will run as TV ads. There is also a companion 30-second spot that was shot inside the California house that appeared as the Chicago-area Bueller home in the movie. Matt Lenski of Arts & Sciences directed the commercials.

"This being an iconic movie we knew we had to pay homage to it and not deviate, not change it and put our own kind of spin on it outside of using Joe Keery and maybe making it a modern adaptation," Mr. Calcao said.

Along with the tracker, Domino's shows off some other tech advances. Its DXP delivery car, on the road in a limited number of markets, shows up in the first spot. In the second, Mr. Keery places his order on an Amazon Echo before getting into the shower, where he checks the tracker on a waterproof smartwatch.

Domino's is not the first marketer to use a "Ferris Bueller" idea. Honda hired Mr. Broderick for a different telling of various scenes in a 2012 Super Bowl commercial from RPA.

Domino's said its campaign was created under license from Paramount Pictures. The chain was allowed to recreate sequences from the John Hughes film as long as it followed one rule: it could not use the words "Ferris Bueller."

A version of this story also appears on Adage.com.