Domino's Pizza Apology
Reason for Apologizing: The Domino's Pizza apology was issued as a result of
the terrible taste of Domino's pizza. Company executives decided to come
clean and listen to the harsh criticism of their customers regarding the
taste of their pizza.
For most ad agencies and PR gurus this was a very risky strategy given
that the company's main source of profits comes from pizza sales.
The new ad campaign at the centre of Domino's Pizza apology was based on
the strategy of using a proactive mea culpa that explicitly acknowledged
the problems and defects with their product followed by a promise to
What's so surprising about the apology was the fact that it was not
caused by a drop in the stock or financial performance, both have
remained pretty steady.
When selling pizza represents your company's primary source of profits,
officially apologizing for a pizza that is "devoid of taste" is a
As Patrick Doyle (the company's new CEO) explains,
"Were proving to our customers that we are listening to them
by brutally accepting the criticism thats out there. We think that
going out there and being this honest really breaks through to people in
a way that most advertising does not."
The director of Crispin Porter's advertising group, Tony Calcao, defends
Domino's Pizza apology this way:
"...we realized that we couldnt just come out and say we have a
brand new pizza, because no one's going to believe Domino's. The first
thing you need to do is own up to the fact that you had to make a whole
As apology ad campaigns go, the Domino's Pizza apology actually surprised many
industry experts -- it included a clear and explicit acknowledgment of the poor
quality of the pizza by describing the sauce as tasting like "ketchup" and the
crust as "cardboard".
The campaign was replete with employees reading comments
by angry customers, and several statements by the new CEO accepting
responsibility and declaring that Domino's had no choice but to improve the
The approach is not that different from the strategy adopted by
CEO covered in one of PA's business apology case studies.
Domino's Pizza Apology Evaluation
There are two ways to assess the Domino's Pizza apology. From a business
point of view some critics will point to the risks of being so hard on the
product you sell -- people might hear half the message and accept the
criticisms but miss the main point.
The strategy might simply reinforce negative impressions of an admittedly
bad product. But others will point to the benefits of an approach that is
bound to attract public attention, curiosity and, by extension, free media
exposure, as this apology managed to do.
The public is likely to be smart enough to get the point and appreciate
the effort. Had Domino's simply come out with a traditional ad campaign
trying to sell their "new and improved" product it would probably have cost
the same and failed.
But having the company's senior executives acknowledge how bad the
product is, followed by the stage-two campaign to improve the taste, the
positive effects are likely to be much greater.
Set the bar very low and have customers compare the harsh criticisms to
the new product. The improvements will be perceived by most customers as so
much more impressive by definition, and the effort, therefore, will be
viewed as more genuine and successful.
The key, of course, is to make sure the product is significantly
improved, because only minor adjustments in the context of an ad campaign
extolling the new and improved taste runs the risk of seriously backfiring
-- remember New Coke?
Learn about business apologies.
Or, return from...The Domino's Pizza
Apology to Apology Research.
Or, go to The Perfect Apology Homepage