Anecdotally, I can tell you that the Dominos Pizza debacle — in which some scabrous pizzamakers in a North Carolina outlet chronicled their disgusting abuses for YouTube — will affect the chain’s business.
How do I know? Because my “mainstream” bride found out about this episode on her own, and when the kids clamored for Dominos, she cursed in Welsh.
When my bride cusses in an ancient Celtic tongue, you don’t cross her again.
Dominos is trying to get ahead of the situation. They joined Twitter. The CEO posted an apology to YouTube (with the SEO-savvy title, “Disgusting Dominos People” — wonder if that was the top-trending Google search at the time?) … Such Social Media moves might satisfy the digerati but will they satisfy regular folks like Mrs. Defren? Not as likely.
I like Shel Holtz’s idea: “wouldn’t it be cool if Domino’s installed webcams in every kitchen so customers could watch their food being prepared at their local restaurant?”
With cheap webcams, I don’t see this as being financially impossible.
A national media campaign could tout this Herculean effort at transparency. Folks like my wife would be empowered to police the local pizza joint for any violations — and could report directly to Dominos Corporate if some “gross” negligence ever occured. And thus my kids could swamp their mom’s protests: “If you’re so worried, let’s watch them make it for us! It’ll be fun!”
That would be an effective campaign for Dominos. But what does it say about the state of Corporate Culture that some of the most prominent brands to join the Social Media sphere have been “forced” to do so by horrific events?
That’s not to say that other Big Brands participating in Social Media do so because they’ve screwed up: but I can tell you that many of the brand managers we talk to at SHIFT are “terrified” about the many ways Social Media can go sideways, when we discuss how-to best move forward.
“What if something goes wrong?” they ask. “It will,” we say.
As they blanche, we continue: “But by getting involved early — by making some smart moves before something goes wrong — you’ll build more effective listening posts, and, you’ll buy your brand some credibility and time to respond appropriately. In fact you’ll have a better feel for ‘what is appropriate,’ by that point. And best of all, you’ll have a new base of steady friends who will have your back.”
What do you think? Does the fact that a brand joins the Social Media scene only after a crisis cheapen their conversation? Or do you give them the benefit of the doubt?
Will you feel the same way a year or two from now, by which point it will have been even more obvious that these brands ought to have “joined the conversation” a while ago?
Posted on: April 21, 2009 at 9:49 am By Todd Defren