Villing & Company

Sausage Strategies: Marketing Gambles by Dominos and Oscar Meyer

I heard a shocker today. Oscar Meyer is retiring the longest running jingle in advertising history. Sing along with me. “I wish I was an Oscar Meyer weiner…” Yeah, you know it. It’s been part of the advertising landscape since 1953. Now, Oscar Meyer says that the jingle is too restrictive because their product mix is much more than hot dogs and baloney.

Dominos Pizza has been shaking up the ad world lately as well with their interesting strategy involving a brutally candid presentation of negative consumer opinions about the quality of their product.

Although the situations are quite a bit different, they have a common theme. Risk.

Oscar Meyer’s risk is not as significant as Dominos but it does raise some interesting questions about when strategic considerations offset the incredibly high level of equity in a brand asset like the wiener jingle. I can understand why the strategic considerations would take precedence, but for my part, I would love to see them try to reconcile this conflict so we don’t lose such a valuable icon from the golden age of advertising.

When I first heard about Dominos plans a few weeks back, I was intrigued. Now that I have seen the actual commercials I am torn as to whether this is a good marketing strategy or the recipe for disaster. If you haven’t seen the TV commercials or online video, they show Dominos executives watching focus groups in which their pizzas are described as tasting like “cardboard”, their sauce like “ketchup” and one participant claims it’s the “worst excuse for pizza I’ve ever had.” All of this was, of course, the set-up for a new campaign touting their new and improved pizza recipe.

My first reaction was to applaud their amazing candor and refreshing honesty. But then I started thinking about the risks involved. Andy Fuller, the newest member of the Villing team said it best. “Definitely a huge risk, but I can understand where they're coming from. They changed their core product, but trust in that product was already so low it led them to believe no one would give it a chance. It looks like they figured the only shot to build trust was to develop a sort of mea culpa campaign in which they showed the changes were the result of consumers' suggestions. They're trying to build trust by implying consumers are the ones who built this pizza, not necessarily Domino's. I think Microsoft is taking a similar angle with their "I'm a PC, and Windows 7 was my idea" campaign.

The major risk, of course, is, if in the end, people try the pizza and still don't like it.”
The famed adman Tom McElligott once said that the best advertising should make you a bit nervous… should make the palms sweat a little. I’m guessing there is some serious wringing of hands going on at Dominos right now as they wait to see how the new campaign fares in the ultimate focus group: the consumer marketplace.

Filed Under: advertising

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