retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kate McMahon

Domino’s is asking customers to rat out franchisees that have not dropped the word “Pizza” on storefront logos by posting incriminating photos on Instagram, for the opportunity to win free pizza for a year.

At first glance, I thought this #LogoInformants social media campaign was ill-advised.

Upon reflection, I was wrong.

It’s asinine.

The pizza chain announced in 2012 it was changing its logo and name from Domino’s Pizza to just Domino’s – “because we’re more than pizza.”

Now you’d think that a worldwide chain with $8 billion in revenue would have a well-orchestrated rebranding plan and help its almost 5,000 national outlets transition to the new logo. Domino’s in the U.S. is 96% franchise-owned, and after all, these are the folks who cut headquarters the check.

Well, that clearly hasn’t happened.

The 2012 logo change replaced the all-red domino with a blue-and-red domino, and dropped the accompanying words Domino’s Pizza, which were set against a blue background. All was quiet until this February, when Domino’s aired a commercial exploding and obliterating one of the old storefront logos and highlighting its chicken, pasta, sandwiches and stuffed cheesey-bread offerings.

The Instagram contest followed, urging fans to act like spies and upload a photo of a an outlet with an old logo by April 27th for the chance to be one of five people to win free pizza for a year, or one of 1,000 $10 gift cards.

“Your cooperation with this case identifies you as an individual empowered to conduct investigations of Domino’s retail stores as a confidential informant," according the terms and conditions on the Logo Informants website. "We know this sounds like a legitimate assignment, but you should know it’s just for good fun, which means you have no police power and are not an employee of any governmental division. Sorry."

Sorry. In my mind, Domino’s urging customers to snitch on their local pizza purveyor rather than corporate HQ doing its job doesn’t qualify as good fun. And if I were a franchise owner, I wouldn’t see the fun in being shamed over a sign when focusing on weightier issues such as delivering a quality product and, in many areas, worrying about driver safety.

To make an ill-conceived social media effort even more ludicrous, both the Domino’s Facebook pages and Twitter account still include the words Domino’s Pizza.

The backlash on Instagram and Twitter was immediate.

"Umm, @Dominos I think you forgot to 'drop the pizza' on your own Facebook page. #logoinformants #sweeps," wrote one Instagram user, with a screenshot of the Domino's Pizza Facebook page.

Other typical posts included:

“SHAME! YOUR Twitter feed is still represents you as Domino's Pizza! SHAME!”

“Name change alert! ‘Domino's Pizza’ is now simply, Domino's. Because they are much more than pizza, but much less than food.”

Another critic went right for the grammar attack.

“Calling yourselves Domino's now without the ‘pizza’ and using that logo makes no sense. Domino’s is plural yet your logo is a single domino. Made sense to use the plural possessive form before with pizza attached. Now you're just ignorant sounding.”

Even fans of the promotion, which has more than 3,300 posts on Instagram, noted that Domino’s still used “Pizza” in social media. Wrote one: “Hey @Dominos: I love ur #logoinformant contest but u should start with ur Twitter account!”

Domino’s was quick to defend the campaign.

"It's just a fun way to engage our old logo before it's gone, through a tongue-in-cheek scavenger hunt," Domino's spokeswoman Jenny Fouracre told ABC News. "It has nothing to do with shaming our franchisees at all."

She told ABC that Domino’s expected most of the stores to be “re-imaged” by the end of 2017, at a cost ranging from $40,000 to $55,000 per location, and would not take action against those identified on Instagram. The spokeswoman also said the company sometimes uses its old name online, because many people still search for "Domino's Pizza."

Domino’s has worked diligently to overcome a 2009 viral video showing employees in a North Carolina franchise putting nose snot on a customer’s sandwich. That’s why I question this negative social media campaign which only draws attention to its own inconsistency and does little to create a positive relationship between customers and their local Domino’s.

I’d recommend the opposite – an Instagram I Spy campaign highlighting the franchises that are proudly displaying the new logo -- to raise brand/expanded menu awareness and get fans excited about free pizza (or pasta or chicken) for a year.

Comments? As always, send them to me at .
KC's View: