The Domino’s effect (Part 1): Social media use the MENA region can learn from

dominos pizza logo

dominos pizza logo


We are all fascinated with social media even though recent reports and surveys from the MENA region have stated that most marketeers in the region are facing difficulties with it especially dealing with negative feedback from consumers and creating value for their brands from it. So I did some research about social media case studies that have occurred recently and one that kept popping up is how Domino’s Pizza dealt with a crisis that started online and how they managed to utilize social media to turn a crisis that threatened to damage their brand for good into something positive that added value (and more sales) under just 2 years. In this 2 part article we will see what happened, how Domino’s dealt with it initially and how they managed not only to bounce back but become a bigger better brand.

It all started in April 2009, when 2 Domino’s Pizza employees video taped a prank and uploaded it to youtube, in the video the 2 employees were preparing tainted sandwiches to be delivered to customers. The video is now removed due to copyright issues, however you can see below some media coverage about it:

The video went viral within days with over a million hits not to mention the chatter on twitter and blogs all over the internet. It was clear the Domino’s brand took a strong hit and within a couple of days loyal consumers who have always been ordering from Domino’s were second guessing the quality, hygiene and so on… Domino’s was now facing a crisis because of the video that spread like wildfire online and social media sites.

So what did Dominos do in order to turn around the situation at the time? Did they avoid it hoping that it would all go away? Can they respond to such an incident with the same old methods? It was clear something had to be done, but what and how?

Well it turns out as the company learned about the video, Domino’s executives decided not to respond aggressively, hoping the controversy would quiet down. They figured if they made any statement it would add fuel to the fire, but what they didn’t expect is that these videos kept growing the situation didn’t seem like it was going to quite down, in today’s digital age such a strategy doesn’t work. In an article on The New York times at the time of the incident Scott Hoffman the chief marketing officer of the social-media marketing firm Lotame stated that in social media, “if you think it’s not going to spread, that’s when it gets bigger”.

Lesson #1: When you’re up against a crisis, especially in the digital world. Act Quick! It will not go away.

A great number of tweets were popping up asking domino’s what are they doing about the scandal, Apparently they were still using old methods including TV coverage and press releases all of that is fine but what they seemed to be missing was a twitter handle to answer all the questions. That’s when Dominos decided to create a twitter account @dpzinfo to respond directly to consumers, however they quickly realized that just responding wasn’t good enough so they issued a public apology from Domino’s U.S.A. president, Patrick Doyle, that was uploaded on youtube and re-tweeted,  you can view the video below:

Lesson #2: When a you’re facing an online crisis, deal with it online!

The battle was still not over, although Domino’s reacted with the correct responses to the negative image they were a bit slow and still facing an uphill battle to regain consumer’s trust. It’s important to keep in mind when something like this happens videos will remain online, the web never forgets!

How did Dominos use social media to get more sales after this crisis? Stay tuned for the second part of the article to see how being honest and going back to basics paid big time for Domino’s Pizza.


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Having worked with top digital agencies and companies in the MENA region for the past number of years I'm now looking now to venture on my own with small side projects in online, SaaS products. Things I like include: gaming, sports, technology, social media, start ups, funny things and reading about new bright ideas.