Friday, February 10, 2012

Out-of-ideas men

If you're anything like us, you probably watched the Super Bowl this year trying to figure out which of the awful ads were the responsibility of our favorite whipping boys, Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Amazingly, according to the Ad Age listing of the game's ads, the only CP+B offering on the entire broadcast was the Best Buy ad with all the designers. It was a fairly bland ad (though the Alec Baldwin joke drew my only chuckle of the entire broadcast) and it ends awkwardly, but it certainly was the opposite of what we usually associate CP+B with - nonsensical high-concept premises and over-the-top editorializing of the company's products.

This latest Domino's ad, while perhaps not as grating as much of the CP+B fare previously discussed on this blog, settles squarely in the latter camp.

That's right: Domino's is PROUD to have come up with this product.

Domino's CEO Patrick Doyle: "At a big company, new ideas don't usually come from the local store level."

I just want to interrupt for a second here. Do you not totally hate this camerawork? The obsession with handheld is one thing if you're shooting some movie that you want to look like cinéma vérité, but this is a Domino's commercial. I don't need the little zoom on Patrick Doyle's face while he's talking to me (by which I mean someone JUST to the left of the cameraman), thanks.

Doyle: "But a great idea can come from anywhere."

And so can this one!

Brian Edler: "I'm Brian Edler, and I created the new Domino's Parmesan Bread Bites. They're freshly baked pieces of bread with garlic and parmesan."

So... they're breadsticks. Only you chopped them up. Is there any way that the idea didn't come to Brian in something like this fashion: "Hmm... we've got all these bits of dough left at the end of the pizza and breadstick-making processes. We could just throw them away, but that's wasteful. We could refine our process so we don't end up with these extra bits... nah. I know! We'll toss them in the oven, then coat them with oil and cheese when they come out, and call that another side dish! Someone get corporate on the phone, because I am a FUCKING GENIUS."

Bob: "The test kitchens at Domino's haven't come up with this, but the guy in Findlay, Ohio did. That's what's awesome about this."

Is anything awesome about this? I guess it's nice that Domino's is willing to solicit new ideas from the local store level, but who wouldn't do that if it were a sufficiently good idea? It doesn't seem like this really puts Domino's on the absolute vanguard. Especially since this product is fucking stupid.

Lauryn: "You know, I think Brian should be the CEO of Domino's."
Doyle: [laughs for a couple seconds] ""

Really nice of them to flatter this guy for his brilliant idea, then take a total shit on him at the end. I mean, obviously there's no way he should be the CEO of Domino's, least of all just for coming up with this shitty product, but was this part really necessary?

Announcer: "Get 16 Parmesan Bread Bites for just a dollar..."

I love how they're asking you to buy what is effectively scraps and acting like it's such a deal that they're only charging a dollar.

Announcer: "Share your ideas at"

Whoa. WHOA. Are you serious, Domino's? This is what you're doing now? You're actively going to ask members of the public to just hand over ideas for you to steal? This is ridiculous.

And yes, they are EXTREMELY serious:

I feel really bad for the intern who has to comb through the "Idea Box" submissions looking for the one or two that are even remotely usable. But this whole concept is a joke. I don't know what the "reward" they're handing out for ideas is, but somehow I get the feeling that it's a lot less than what a really good idea might make Domino's in profits, and probably a lot less than what it costs to pay the salary of an R&D guy. This is the most brazen attempt to get the consumer to do a company's job for them since AT+T thought people might be willing to pay for a t-shirt with a stupid mashed-up place name on it, you know, like those retarded commercials they used to have. (Can you imagine being the person who actually bought one of those and now having to explain it to people every time you wear it? I really hope no one was that stupid.)

Asking people what they like and don't like about your company and its products is one thing. That's obviously the way Domino's decided their old pizza was crap and changed the recipe, and then made a whole series of ads making a big deal about how they did that. But saying, "You know, we're kind of out of ideas over here at Domino's... do you think you could maybe... tell us what we should do? Please?" That's really just kind of sad.


Quivering P. Landmass said...

Two super old ideas here. Parmesan Bread Bites are nothing more than "garlic knots," which you can get at any New York pizzeria, and you've been able to get them pretty much since pizza was brought to this country.

As for the ThinkOven, this is nothing more than "crowd sourcing." Another thing that has existed for some time. Yawn.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious...thanks for this blog...being from F&B industry myself I always find it funny what execs think will be a great hit... But find it even funnier when the brilliant public actually buys into their obviously profit squeezing ideas...

Anonymous said...

New idea? All these are are chunks of Crazy Bread from Little Caesars

Anonymous said...

You want to know what's awesome about the Domino's ad? I will tell you. It's the fact that a CEO is standing in front of a national television audience and personally demonstrating the ignorance of corporate executives that ruins so many companies.

As soon as he said, "At a big company, new ideas don't usually come from the local store level," my first reaction was to scream "BULL****!" at my television.

People at the local store level -- you know, the people who actually do this stuff and deal with real customers every day? -- are ALWAYS coming up with ideas. Unfortunately, there are few companies where people at the corporate level are interested in hearing from these people. They seem convinced that good ideas can only come from focus groups and other executives with MBAs and no hands-on experience.

Anonymous said...

I was just stunned to learn Domino's has "test kitchens". If so they are definitely grading on a curve.

Anonymous said...

I find this whole comercial a ridiclous punch in the face to people who work in the lower levels of a business.. exactly as he said in the first line of the comercial " at a big company new ideas don't usually come from the local store level" sad part is because most of the time the people at the local store level aren't allowed to have their own ideas... its all on the people sitting up in their offices.. who don't know what really happens at the store level... big corporations wonder y they r losing money.. maybe they should start listening.

Steve said...

EXACTLY! Thanks for the analysis... I was afraid that I was going to have to write the same analysis on my own.... well put!