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The story behind Domino’s “we’re sorry for sucking” campaign

Screenshot: Domino's Pizza Turnaround
Screenshot: Domino's Pizza Turnaround

For its latest cover story, Bloomberg Businessweek digs into the thriving business model of the once-maligned Domino’s Pizza. And for those who don’t subscribe to the print magazine, Bloomberg created a super-sleek online presentation of its Domino’s story. Much like the franchise itself, the online article is full of fancy bells and whistles, like a “choose your background toppings” feature that lets pineapple, pepperoni, or black olives cascade across the screen. But in addition to those visual flairs, Susan Berfield’s article also offers a lot of substance about the rise, fall, and resurrection of Domino’s.

After gaining a reputation during the early 2000s as the worst pizza chain (people in consumer tests liked a pizza less if they knew it was Domino’s rather than just an unbranded pizza), Domino’s went through a major shift in late 2009. The company started airing self-deprecating commercials that openly acknowledged their pizza was shitty and that they were committed to upgrading their product.

That kicked off a wave of transparent advertising, like a commercial that showed off the food photography tricks used in pizza commercials and promised not to use them anymore. And all of that rebranding paid off. According to the article, “Domino’s went from having a 9 percent share of the pizza restaurant market in 2009 to 15 percent in 2016.” Last year, Domino’s had the “fastest growth rate among the top 10 quick-service chains” and the highest customer loyalty among pizza chains.

Berfield’s article also looks at the ways Domino’s relies more on “virtual or unconsumable” new products rather than new menu items. That includes much-hyped specialty delivery cars, drone delivery services (at least in New Zealand), and a whole bunch of futuristic ways to order, from tweeting emojis to “zero-click” ordering.

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