Domino’s Perplexed By Poor Sales of Pizza Suppositories
Ann Arbor, MI (AP) – Fast-food giant Domino’s Pizza, confronted with anemic sales of its new pizza suppositories, has put further marketing efforts for the product on hold, according to a statement from the company’s corporate headquarters.
Following a lengthy promotional campaign, the Italian food chain finally released its line of “Up Yours” pizza suppositories, hoping to tap into the growing need for ever-more-efficient food delivery in a busy era. With Up Yours, Domino’s hoped to appeal to rushed parents and hurried workers who lack the time to properly ingest and digest even typical fast food. Its “Taste is waste” slogan leveraged the company’s reputation for providing a less-than-stellar culinary experience; a 2009 survey of consumer taste preferences among national chains by Brand Keys, Domino’s tied with Chuck E. Cheese’s for last place.
The advertising push followed an intensive program to get buy-in from the chain’s more than 5,000 franchise holders, but that stage of the program took several months longer than expected because headquarters found it difficult to convince the franchisees to get behind the initiative, according to Seymour Butz, an analyst at Sphincter Industries who studies the fast food industry.
“The franchisees were worried about bottlenecks in supply and production,” said Butz, who also noted that trial runs of that production exposed lax adherence to quality standards. Although the company addressed those concerns, problems continued to emerge even as the release date approached.
Domino’s was forced to push back the start of the promotional campaign to fix those emerging issues, and the executives were apparently satisfied that they had managed to wipe away the sticky problems by softening its position on franchisee contribution. Advertising began in January, and the first Up Yours suppositories were offered in Kansas, Texas and Arkansas. Hopeful initial data from the “In Testin'” phase prompted the further roll-out of the products up and down the eastern seaboard and Illinois.
But sales logs, initially positive, proved disappointing, and continued to contract through the spring and summer, skidding almost entirely to a halt by August. The board pinned its hopes on the September “Backside to School” advertising blitz, aiming to appeal to more regular customers, but decided that if October sales showed no major improvement they would be forced to cancel production. Despite an $18 million investment in equipment, materials and marketing, the company’s bottom line has suffered, limiting Domino’s to a second-quarter profit only slightly higher than the same period last year.
Hopes had been high until then, as a program in the same spirit by a different fast food player had shown its potential. In 2009 White Castle announced that it was “eliminating the middle man” by liquefying its burgers and spraying them directly on the insides of toilet bowls. White Castle sales figures had not appreciably suffered as a result, and Domino’s executives apparently felt that their marketing acumen could make such an approach profitable.
This is not the first abortive Domino’s marketing program. In 1992 and 1993, high-profile lawsuits charged the company with recklessness in guaranteeing home delivery within 30 minutes of an order’s placement; two fatalities had resulted from Domino’s delivery men’s driving. Of particular interest to the plaintiff was a provision calling for the public beheading of drivers who failed to reach their destinations within the allotted time. The company settled both cases, but agreed to eliminate the punitive measures for late deliveries, which had garnered initial popularity and a contract to televise the beheadings.
Please Like Mightier than the Pen on Facebook, where, on principle, we do not post pictures of our lunch. Count yourself lucky.