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(Another) Lesson for CMOs: This Time from Domino’s Pizza

Posted on: 26 May '10

In my last blog, I wrote about the lessons marketers could learn from the misfortunes of Toyota and Goldman Sachs (read my April 28th blog entitled “A Lesson for CMOs”). Because it had a negative theme, I was ready to drop the topic and move on to the next one. But then I read about how “honest marketing” can actually have a positive impact on business, and felt compelled to write.

In the first quarter of 2010, Domino Pizza reported a 14% increase in same-store sales in Q1 2010. Domino’s CMO attributes the Company’s honest marketing message for the positive results. In the advertising campaign, Domino’s founder admitted that their pizza wasn’t very good (supposedly the crust and the sauce were the guilty ingredients!), that they had listened to their loyal customers, and they were committed to improving their product. In an industry where single digit increases in same stores sales is considered good, 14% is obviously a great result.

It will be interesting to see what Domino’s does as a follow-up to this effective advertising strategy. After all, it doesn’t appear as if this is a strategy that can be repeated, does it? Furthermore, I wonder how receptive consumers will be if other companies play the “honesty card”. Would it be viewed as calculated and insincere?


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  • M. Vijay

    Hi Joe,
    Honest marketing for sure will have positive effects. Customers will appreciate especially when it creates a positive impact for them.

    Regards | Vijay

  • Hi Joe,

    I am surprised that there wasn’t a consumer forum case against Dominos from people complaining of gastro trouble cause by ‘not so good’ pizza.

    Honesty would work, when done selectively for your current clients. I guess Dominoes can’t have a list of its pizza eaters.

    If a company admitted to an error, wrote to its standing clients stating that this has come to their attention/or they discovered it and are taking steps to rectify the same, it would go a long way towards building a solid relationship. Then again, there is a minor risk that such honesty could be taken advantage of.

    We do live it is litigious society. Just a slightly different viewpoint.


  • Azra

    Consumers are very perceptive and “advertised honesty” would be seen as a gimmick. It is best to leave honest customer initiatives unsullied by advertising & press releases and let the experience of the initiative create the magic at a one-to-one level.
    I remember reading about a unique initiative by the Spanish Bank – Caja Navarra. Once a year, every customer would receive a letter about the money that the bank had from the customer and how much money the bank made that year from the customer’s money. A brilliant lesson in honesty & transparency, executed one-to-one.
    P.S: I found your Toyota/GS blog equally relevant despite its negative theme and left a rather late post in response to that piece as well.

  • Thanks Azra, interesting initiative. I had never heard of this. I appreciate the reply.

  • Thanks Lubna. Good to hear from you. How is the new role?

  • Girish

    An interesting piece, however, a few queries, was the campaign done in the same quarter, did they take any other initiatives during the same quarter e.g. product promotion etc. Not sure if the growth can be attributed entirely to the honest marketing initiative.