Opinion Brief

Can Domino's Pizza reinvent itself?

The pizza chain has launched a startlingly frank ad campaign dissing its own "cardboard" crust. Will the bold plan pay off?

Tired of its reputation as a purveyor of second-rate fast food, Domino's Pizza has decided to take drastic action. The pizza chain is throwing out its 50-year-old recipe for pizza and rewritting it from scratch. Accompanying this move is a new ad campaign acknowledging that all this time its pizza has been "bland" and tasted like "ketchup and cardboard." (See Domino's new "Pizza Turnaround" commercial.) Will the bold strategy work — or just alienate the company's millions of loyal customers?

This level of honesty is exhilarating: The company's "candor" about its flaws is "extraordinary," says Christopher Borrelli at the Chicago Tribune. Okay, so America's response so far has been more "guarded curiosity" than outright praise... and the pizza itself hasn't actually "improved" that much. But Domino's honesty may even have earned the company something "more valuable" than rave reviews: "A little goodwill."
"Domino's image makeover"

This level of honesty is just stupid: Sure, candor in advertising can be refreshing, says Bob Garfield at Ad Age, and even a "good way to establish trust," but there are limits. By "dissing" its flavor and its brand so comprehensively, Domino's has ensured customers will resent it for "knowingly" hawking "cardboard and ketchup." And what's to be gained by telling "previously contented customers" that they have "bad taste in pizza?" This could backfire badly on Domino's.
"Domino's Does Itself a Disservice by Coming Clean About Its Pizza"

Either way, it seems to be working: Analysts may have been "skeptical" about Domino's move, but the market hasn't been, says Jennifer Litz at Pizzamarketplace.com. Over the Christmas period, the company's share price has "risen steadily," ending up 47% over the past month. Some consumers may still "pooh pooh" the "unhealthy nature" of Domino's food. But "the pizza company seems to be getting the last laugh."
"Domino's rising stock shows reward of risk"

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