One of the most interesting stories of the year (and one that I have discussed several times on this blog) is the unusual marketing strategy by pizza franchising behemoth Domino's. In case you missed it, earlier this year Domino's grabbed the public's attention with its bold new advertising plan which featured the company admitting that its pizza wasn't very good, and followed that with an entreaty asking the public to give Domino's another chance with its new, improved-recipe pizza.
The company followed that with a series of ads asking customers to send in pictures of the actual pizza that was delivered to them, which pictures were used in subsequent ads. This came as a breath of fresh air to customers, who are used to seeing their take out and quick service meals advertised by pictures of the food that apparently exist only in some alternate universe. The ads also featured Domino's chefs confronting some of their harshest critics face-to-face.
Domino's Chief Marketing Officer, Russell Weiner, recently spoke about the company's revitalized marketing strategy at an advertising conference. The campaign — using an approach that he called "radical transparency" – has been an overwhelming success for Domino's, which has enjoyed dramatically increased sales systemwide since the new ads began running (in the third quarter of 2010 alone, same-store sales were up 11.7% from last year). The public has not only responded well, it has positively embraced the company. One of the best examples of that is the story Mr. Weiner told his audience about someone sending a $17 check to Domino's because he felt badly about "gaming" the company back in the days when it was running the "30 minutes or it's free" guarantee.
If there is a lesson to be learned from the Domino's experience, it's that people respond well to messages that are sincere and demonstrate accountability – a lesson that certain public figures should take to heart on this Election Day.