I think we’ve all seen the movie about the ad agency that starts telling the truth only to find that business booms. Funny then how fiction turns to fact with news that in 2010, Domino’s US same-store sales rose 9.9% in a market where 1%-to-3% growth is closer to what’s generally expected.
And the way they did it, according to Time, was by publicly trashing their old product, and encouraging consumers to check out the improvements they had made. That, it seems, got people back into the shop, intrigued by the admission and keen to taste what had changed.
On the face of it, as I’ve said, this looks like a case for more truth in advertising, and of course to some extent it is. But I’m not certain that’s why the campaign actually succeeded – and I certainly don’t think it’s an approach that Domino’s could use again to such marked effect.
What this story shows me, and what Susan Bonds’ speech reinforced last week, is that a generation notorious for its inattention will pay a lot of attention to things that attract and keep their attention. The truth worked for Domino’s because it got attention. And it got attention because it was interesting and the new product was interesting.
Maybe that’s how we should really analyse retracting brands: not so much as companies that have lost market share but as companies that have lost market interest. That explains of course why established brands die. They become so cautious, they literally die of boredom in spite of multi-million dollar media schedules and aggressive discounting.
As marketers I think we’ve generally been taught to over-estimate awareness and under-estimate curiosity. As the composer John Cage once remarked, “I like being moved. I don’t like being pushed.”