Domino Effect: What Would You Do?


So you’re a pizza chain franchisee, just minding your own business, and the next thing you know — blam! — an entire frat house wants to see how many pizzas its star mastodon can take down on a Tuesday night. Oh, and unbeknownst to you, you’re providing the pies gratis. Here’s a cautionary tale from a large pizza chain about online marketing:

In December, Domino’s created an online-only promotion for a free pizza using the codeword "bailout," but it never got the green light, said Tim McIntyre, Domino’s vice president of communications. "It had never technically been activated, but we hadn’t turned it off, either."

Monday night (March 30), an "enterprising customer" discovered the deal and spread it on the Internet, McIntyre said. By the time it was shut down at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, nearly 11,000 pizzas were given away.

"I started getting calls at about 10 a.m. from managers asking what was going on. I said I had no idea," said John Glass, owner of 14 Domino’s franchises in the region. "I called corporate, they had no idea at the time. No one seemed to have any idea, everyone was scrambling. It all kind of snowballed."

Glass thinks he was hit harder than anyone else in the area, since he owns all the Domino’s near college campuses. In total, he thinks he gave away 600 to 700 pizzas.

Fortunately for these franchises, corporate has promised to bail them out. But what would you do in this situation? And what can you do to prevent a similar situation at your business?

Funniest of all, it may not be a total disaster for Domino’s:

There could be a silver lining, Glass said. He’s hoping, in addition to the publicity Domino’s basked in Tuesday, it also gave customers a chance to experience the relatively new online ordering system.

It might have worked.

"When I was working full time, we ordered online at LaRosa’s. You had to go through more hoops to order a pizza," (a customer) said. "This was a lot faster, a lot easier."

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