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Consumers Are 'Passionate About Potholes'—and so Is Domino’s


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You may have heard of various charity partnerships in the franchise world, or companies using technology to increase efficiency for consumers with third-party delivery and smartphone apps. But Domino’s is changing the marketing landscape with a new initiative launched last week: filling actual potholes to aid the delivery and carryout experience.

“A critical point of carryout is getting the pizza home in perfect condition,” said Kate Trumbull, vice president of advertising with Domino’s. When asked about how in the world the Michigan-based pizza chain came up with this idea, she mentioned there are many factors to getting pizza from point A to point B. Icy sidewalks, a long drive and especially potholes are all ways a pizza can get ruined according to consumer feedback.

After listening to consumers, Domino’s considered these factors and decided to make a change. “It was a team effort,” Trumbull said of the idea. “We heard from consumers that pizzas sometimes get ruined, and it made us more vigilant to remove tension in the carryout experience.”

At a time when government obligations are piling high and communities are often left with insufficient budgets, is Domino’s trying to be the hero here? The international franchise had to know the project was going to spur hubbub. Since the initial press release, countless articles have been published nationally and more than 2,000 tweets in just the past week have included the phrase “Paving for Pizza.”

Domino’s has already been filling potholes in four states to test out the program. Milford, Delaware; Bartonville, Texas; Athens, Georgia; and Burbank, California have all received grants from Domino’s to fix roads in their communities, and feedback has seemingly been positive. In Milford alone, construction workers sent by Domino’s filled 40 potholes on 10 roads.

Whether or not sales have increased in these cities was not disclosed, but Trumbull did mention Domino’s has been “getting lots of buzz and chatter in these local areas on social media.” She mentioned many franchisees care a lot about their communities and are always looking for ways to improve.

So how does Domino’s decide which communities get potholes filled for free? And how does this work legally? Trumbull explained the chain is working with a third-party organization (the name and type of organization was also not disclosed) to find out which cities are willing and able to receive grants and are open to the idea.  Once this work is done, Domino’s sends over a paving grant complete with a stencil kit to emblazon Domino’s logo and slogan “Oh yes we did” on each filled pothole in spray chalk.

This detail isn’t a requirement of the grant, Trumbull said, but it’s something a lot of communities have been doing. “We ask that they share images on social media, but this is not a rule of the program,” she told Franchise Times. “They’ve just been excited and have been doing it themselves. People are passionate about potholes.”

Trumbull would not say how much this is costing Domino’s, but she did note the plan is to give out 20 paving grants across the country, all of the same size. Communities are chosen based on both online nominations—which can be made here—and what the third-party organization finds when they work with interested cities.

“Momentum has been building,” Trumbull said of the project. Whether or not this is a hint that our country is taking a dystopian turn or a marketing campaign that’s proving beneficial for communities in need, it’s sure getting a lot of attention.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is editor-in-chief of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
 
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
 
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is managing editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
 twitter.com/mlarson1011.
 

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