Domino’s Pizza: Customers Lose Their Appetite
By: Intuic Staff
Domino’s Pizza could best describe its introduction to the power of social media as a baptism by fire. On April 13, 2009, two Domino’s employees decided to make and post a video on YouTube showcasing their talents for cooking. Unfortunately, the video shoot, which took place in a North Carolina Dominos, included shots of one co-worker sticking shredded cheese up his nose and then placing it on a sandwich, of sneezing on a pizza, and taking a sponge used for doing dishes and wiping regions of his body best left to the reader’s imagination.
The video, posted on YouTube, received over a million hits before Domino’s Pizza found out about its existence via a blogger and issued a video apology from the CEO to its customers 48-hours later. The company quickly launched a Twitter account to respond to customer questions and concerns, shut down the restaurant at the request of health inspectors in order to thoroughly clean it, and fired the two workers involved. Both workers also faced criminal charges, although they insisted that none of the food in the video was ever consumed by customers. Even after Domino’s seemingly did everything by the book, many believed Domino’s response might have been too little, too late.
More importantly, how could the company counteract the vivid images now locked in peoples’ minds (and available for replay on
YouTube)? As one psychologist pointed out, disgust is a powerful emotion. The company could do very little to dismiss the heinous images from the minds of consumers--short of showing "pictures of attractive people eating Domino's pizza next to waterfalls." The damage was clearly done. The images were indelibly burned into the psyche of pizza lovers everywhere.
Domino’s had taken several strong steps toward creating an online presence prior to these unfortunate events. It had previously established a YouTube Channel, a Twitter account, and a Facebook and MySpace profile. Yet, Domino’s Pizza failed in its ability to monitor continuously its brand name on the web, and admittedly learned the harsh lesson that anyone with a camera and an internet connection could cause significant damage.
They discovered that as information on the Web often travels in real-time, even a delay in responding of just 48-hours could have a significant impact on a company’s ability to combat negative publicity. Remaining diligent when it comes to monitoring and protecting your brand’s image is necessary.
Furthermore, to fully utilize the tools of social media, one must remain proactive and ever ready to respond. Simply put, you need a good crisis management plan in place, which is easily and quickly adaptable to any situation.
If Domino’s had, for example, developed a loyal network of customers beforehand who could have quickly responded to the video’s posting through various social media outlets, they may have been able to counteract a large portion of the fallout.
 An Unwelcome Delivery, Tara Kalwarski, BTW/Business Week, May 4, 2009, http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_18/c4129btw107849.htm?chan=magazine+channel_the+business+week