Bad Andy, Good Pizza

Rob Levine

by Rob Levine

Partner / VP of Account Strategy

I delivered for Domino’s in Danbury, Connecticut for one day in 1999.

Why such a short tenure?

It was part of a new business pitch. I was an Account Executive in the New York office of Deutsch. As part of the pitch, we sent team members out in the field to work in restaurants. I got to work the impinger oven all morning, cranking out pizzas for the local high school. In the afternoon, I rode with Javier—the top driver for the store. Pictures of Javier and me standing next to his beater in our matching Domino’s uniforms were included in the final pitch presentation.

I recall that my write up (drafted within 24 hours on my agency-issued orange iMac) included recommendations for more contemporary uniforms (the pictures have been burned) and a trailer graphic program.

Domino’s had a pretty significant quality issue. In addition, there had not been much innovation. Deutsch won the business and launched with creative supporting an Italian Originals LTO that was a spoof of the old Perillo Tour commercials from the 1980s. Later, we launched a campaign called, “Bad Andy, Good Pizza.” It featured a monkey who did bad things. But the pizza was good.

I was pretty junior in my career and when I was told we were “parting ways with Domino’s due to creative differences,” I accepted it and moved on to my next assignment.

More than a decade later, Domino’s is struggling with the same issue, but they are addressing it with a slightly different, more “of the moment” approach. Recent campaigns had the CEO very directly addressing quality, and social media campaigns of late focus on the cows that provide the dairy to make the cheese.

In September, my family attended a school event where Domino’s was served. My kids loved it and my wife and I were both surprised by how good it was. With a value LTO of two medium, two-topping pizzas for $5.99 each in the market, we’ve turned to Domino’s quite a few times this fall. We’re definitely “in the system.” They know our favorites and even make suggestions based on past orders.

I’m from Connecticut. New Haven apizza (that’s not a typo) is consistently rated the best pizza in the country. Does Domino’s make pizza worthy of Wooster Street? Heck no. It is convenient, inexpensive and a crowd pleaser.

Has it improved since 1999? Absolutely. The sauce is better and there are more premium cheese and topping choices. Most importantly, they are speaking to consumers in a relevant and authentic way.

As a marketer, it is interesting to look at the elements that brought our family into the Domino’s fray: improved quality, contemporary messaging, peer advocacy and trial.

All that without one monkey.

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