Will people put a pizza on the same pedestal they do an Apple iPhone or Google search? Domino’s seems to think so and has tasked its recently appointed creative agency VCCP to make it happen.
Becoming a “brand icon” sits at the core of the new advertising strategy is has tasked the agency with building over the next few months. VCCP’s initial plan to generate that kind of equity chimed more closely with Domino’s own than those from the Brooklyn Brothers and St Luke’s it ended up beating.
VCCP's work “shone through” because it showed it could take Domino’s marketing to the “next level” in terms of becoming a brand icon, according to Will Hamilton, managing partner at the consultancy firm that handled the pitch.
Naturally, he was coy on what is in store for the brand but it is likely to be evolutionary changes to the strategy before it rather than revolutionary. The reason being is that it is understood that while Domino’s will reassess its long-running ‘Greatness’ campaign, TV will remain a core part of its plan given how crucial it’s been to its growth in recent years. This was evident in the fact that VCCP’s record of filming food alongside its retail record for former clients stood out for Domino’s marketers on the pitch, The Drum has learned. Hamilton declined to comment on the matter, though did reveal the pizza retailer wants a “step change” in its marketing.
The demand comes despite Domino’s brand being in good shape. Michael Stacey of YouGov said: “YouGov’s BrandIndex data indicates that Domino’s remains in a healthy position in the market, but underlines why its future marketing efforts need to be effective at blunting the threat from new entrants to the market.
“The pizza chain took a slight knock in early February when a staff member was pictured in a supermarket buying food that was then allegedly sold on to a customer. Following the news its Quality score dropped by five points but it has since recovered this lost ground. Crucially, Domino’s customers were not too perturbed by the story, and its Impression score remained fairly stable.
“Of course, its rivals are no longer just the likes of Pizza Hut but are instead also newer takeaway brands such as Deliveroo. Currently, Domino’s appears to be dealing effectively with this new threat, ranking higher than Deliveroo in terms of Impression and Purchase Consideration. That being said, Deliveroo’s recent advertising seems to have been effective as many of its scores have begun to rise so Domino’s – and all more established take away brands – should beware.”
It sheds light on Hamilton’s admission that from “time to time it's right to look for agencies”. Indeed, like-for-like sales at the country’s biggest pizza seller’s stores rose 1.5% for the first nine weeks of 2017, far lower than the 10.5% uptick posted the same time a year ago. The performance sent the company’s share price sliding over 15%, compounded by a lower than expected revenue increase of 13.8% to £360.6m last year.
“They [Iris] have done enormously well at growing brand share, share of throat and making Domino’s the brand the leader in pizza…but the feeling was it should once again reevaluate,” added Hamilton.
Over the last year, much of that momentum has come from online orders, spurred by a number of innovations including a specially equipped delivery car with on-board cooker, an autonomous delivery robot, drone deliveries, a Facebook Messenger bot and a Facebook Live auction. The stunts have helped the company significantly increase its online orders which have contributed to an 11.5% overall sales growth on last year to £237m, from £212.6m.
Beyond online sales, the business recently told investors that it will open 400 more stores in the UK to swell its number to 1,200, a move it hopes will stave off competition from the likes of Deliveroo and UberEats.
Additional reporting by Rebecca Stewart.