Dominos Delivers Its Promise: Gross Bro-Food

Fast Company: “In the age of Instagram, food is no longer designed to just be food … Yet in this new wave of food-as-influencer, there is a single, curmudgeonly brand that insists on photographing its dishes on conference room tables, under fluorescent lighting, and from all sorts of unflattering angles. It’s a brand that looks art directed by your 65-year-old parents who bought some no-name Android smartphone, hired based upon their portfolio of blurry photos on Facebook. It’s Domino’s.”

Dennis Maloney, Domino’s chief digital officer, comments: “In this space, we actually are finding that less than perfect is sometimes actually perfect. A lot of customers are out photographing their food. They know, depending where you take it and the light you’re under, food looks different. It feels much more honest and transparent when the images are imperfect … Even if it is a little bit gooey, greasy, the packaging isn’t perfect, and there’s a bit of a burnt spot, that’s the pizza you get. And that makes you think how good it was last time you had it.”

“But let us be clear about something when it comes to Domino’s social feeds. It’s not just full of realistic photography without a food stylist on the set. It’s often downright gross bro-food, like what you might see waking up at 5 a.m. on the floor of a frat house. We’re talking about grease-stained boxes, mozzarella cheese that has a white balance set to the color of earwax (17,000 likes) … We’re talking about congealed chicken wings sitting in a pool of lukewarm buffalo sauce (8,000 likes) … In theory, Domino’s will only drive more loyalty with every person who sees a deflated pile of cheese sticks on its feed and orders them in real life, because Domino’s is delivering on its promise.”


Quote of the Day: Rishad Tobaccowala

“The way I think about advertising is it’s in secular decline and I need to think about products and services much more than I need to think about communication.” ~ Rishad Tobaccowala, chief growth officer for the Publicis Groupe, in The New York Times.


Life is Short. Why Not Arby’s?

Business Insider: “On January 14, 2015, a Twitter account named Nihilist Arby’s (@nihilist_arbys) was born, and it didn’t take long for Arby’s corporate office to notice. With a double beef and cheese as its avatar, the angst-ridden account confronted followers with a negation of everything they held dear in life and offered they fill that void with a sandwich and curly fries.” Sample tweet: “Drain the blood, cure and slice the flesh, season and fry the potatoes, feed them the sugar water. Be born. Toil. Die. Arby’s. We sell food.”

“By mid-February, Nihilist Arby’s had 13,000 followers and … a significantly better engagement rate than the real Arby’s account, which had nearly 400,000 followers … in August, Adweek revealed that the man behind the account was Brendan Kelly, an adman from Chicago and longtime punk-band frontman. Arby’s would soon make peace with its nihilist counterpart, flying an executive out to meet Kelly with a bag of food and a puppy.”

The backstory: “Kelly was working at the ad agency FCB when he found himself in a conference room with a brand executive pitching Twitter strategy to the head of social media … He imagined a scenario where someone in charge of a brand’s Twitter account … had a ‘red pill’ experience, a reference to the pill in The Matrix that frees people from an artificial world. This social-media employee would be ‘exposed to how f—ing horrendously tragic life actually is — you know, how meaningless everything is,’ Kelly said, laughing. A phrase that popped into his head was ‘Nihilist Arby’s,’ which had less to do with anything specific about Arby’s and more with how goofy it sounded.”


Distal or Proximal? How Senses Affect Purchases

Fast Company: A Brigham Young University study “found that ads highlighting more distal sensory experiences like sight and sound lead people to delay purchasing, while those that emphasize more proximal sensory experiences like touch or taste lead to earlier purchases.”

“In one experiment, study subjects read ad copy for a summer festival taking place either this weekend or next year. One version of the ad copy emphasized taste (‘You will taste the amazing flavors . . .’), and another focused on sound (‘You will listen to the amazing sounds . . .’). Those who read the ad copy about taste had a higher interest in attending a festival this weekend, while those who read ads emphasizing sounds were more likely to have interest in attending the festival next year.”

Ryan Elder, lead author of the study, comments: “Vision and sound, which are more distal sensory experiences, will help sell products and experiences far from where the consumer currently is, or purchases made in the future. They also help in advertising products consumers may buy for a more distant other, like a colleague. In contrast, taste and touch, which are more proximal (closer) sensory experiences, will help sell products or experiences physically close to the consumer, or for purchases made right now. In addition, when advertising products consumers may buy for a close friend, touch and taste will help sell the product better.”


Algorithmania: Nutella Prints 7 Million Unique Labels

Hyperallergic: “Nutella’s manufacturer, Ferrero, recently partnered with advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather Italia to make Nutella even more endearing and its consumption more exciting by presenting Nutella Unica, an algorithm designed to create a series of unique labels for (almost) every Nutella jar in Italy. The algorithm pulls from a database of dozens of patterns and colors to create seven million different versions of the Nutella label — pink and green, striped and polka-dotted, Pop Art-inspired and minimal.”

“Advertising for Nutella Unica compares the individuality of each jar to the people of Italy themselves (there are about 60 million people in Italy, so about 11% of them can get a jar all their own — actually quite a feat). When these exceptionally delicious artworks hit shelves in Italy in February 2017, they sold out in barely a month. Can you imagine the shopping possibilities — buying multiples, or maybe trying to find an attractive pair?”


Tote Bags Carry The Brand Message

The Wall Street Journal: “Sturdy, canvas, waterproof or made of recycled material, tote bags take up an expanding part of our lives (and car trunks) as cities, counties and states continue to impose fees or bans on plastic bags. Stores either give them away free with purchase or sell them for a couple bucks in the hopes that consumers will like them and carry them—and that others will notice.”

“When totes are durable and reusable they become longer-lived ad campaigns. Swimwear label 6 Shore Road’s founder, Pooja Kharbanda, says that she made 1,000 tote bags to distribute at pop-up stores in Montauk, N.Y., and Newport, R.I., this summer. She estimates the cost is 2.5 times what it would be if she had just chosen paper bags. But she hopes the bags will turn up on the beach, carrying flip flops and towels … Some retailers sell the bags to help cover the cost. H&M ’s tote bags cost $2 to $4 and help spread the word about its garment recycling program. Customers who trade in old clothing or textiles can get 15% off their purchase.”

Marybeth Schmitt of H&M North America comments: “We know that word-of-mouth is the strongest kind of advertising. And, this is like a form of word-of-mouth. They are recommending it by wearing it.”


Ikea Frakta Bag: Dark-Horse Design Icon

Fast Company: “Ikea’s bright-blue Frakta bag has become something of a dark-horse design icon. Who would’ve guessed a 99-cent crinkly plastic tote would be as beloved and as indispensable, to some, as an iPhone? … Ikea casts the bag in a democratic light, showing how it’s a does-it-all-design–grocery bag, makeshift umbrella, beach tote–in virtually every scenario: vacation, biking, at home, at work, even when kicking out your ex and all his junk. In Ikea’s eyes, the bag is common ground for everyone.”


Where Does Coke Taste So Good?

The New York Times: “The latest television commercials for McDonald’s, featuring the actress Mindy Kaling, do not appear on the company’s YouTube channel, Facebook page or Twitter account. In fact, they don’t mention McDonald’s at all — though they do mention Coca-Cola and Google.”

“The ads are part of the chain’s first unbranded marketing campaign, in which it is coyly asking people to search Google for ‘that place where Coke tastes so good.’ The query, meant to capitalize on millions of search engine results that favor the fast-food chain, is central to the ads where association with the brand is limited to placing Ms. Kaling in a bright yellow dress against a red backdrop.”

“The notion that Coke tastes differently at McDonald’s has been a topic of fascination for some time. The New York Times, as part of a 2014 article on the business relationship between McDonald’s and Coke, which dates back to 1955, reported that Coke has a special system for transporting and producing the beverage at the fast-food chain. Part of that includes delivering its syrup in stainless steel tanks versus plastic bags. McDonald’s also says it pre-chills the water and the syrup before it enters its fountain dispensers, and offers a slightly wider straw.”


Tribeca X: Rewarding Brand Storytelling

The New York Times: “The Tribeca X Award “looks to reward the best ‘storytelling’ from brands working with artists and filmmakers. It drew 600 entries in its second year, triple the number from last year, showcasing the growth in a subtle type of marketing that aims to reach people who are tuning out of traditional commercials.”

“Apple, for example, sponsored a 13-minute documentary about a mountain-climbing Bangladeshi woman that happened to be shot entirely on an iPhone 6s. Another finalist: an eight-minute film from the mobile payments company Square, telling the story of a Syrian refugee’s dreams after his move to Tennessee; the man is a small-business owner and customer.”

Jae Goodman, a Tribeca X judge, comments: “It’s the same elements that make it a great, great story, that touches you, that sparks the right emotion, that gives you the same great response that an Oscar-winning movie would give you. However, it also needs to drive those brand and business results. If Coca-Cola makes a great feature film and doesn’t sell more Coca-Cola, then that’s a failure on Coca-Cola’s part.”


Pie Face: A New Era in Toymaking

The Washington Post: “Pie Face, a game in which a dollop of whipped cream is served up from a plastic “throwing arm” to someone who has positioned his face in its path … was the single best-selling item in the games category in 2016 and the fourth best-selling toy overall, according to market research firm NPD Group.”

“Pie Face is a symbol of a new era in toymaking, one in which social media is allowing the industry to marshal you, the everyday shopper, to become a product’s most powerful advertiser. And its mega-popularity has helped fuel a flurry of action from toymakers to create games that offer a ‘shareable moment’ — a brief visual morsel that parents and grandparents will post on Instagram or Facebook and that teens will put on Snapchat or YouTube. It’s a new breed of toy that can’t just be fun for players in real time. It has to be demonstrative. Performative, even.”

“Social trends go boom and bust at warp speed, and so toymakers say that they have to move at a breakneck pace to capitalize on them. Such was the case with Speak Out, another Hasbro creation. In this game, players wear a mouthguard-like plastic mold that stretches their faces to look cartoonish and makes it hard to talk. Players must say a phrase to a partner and get them to guess their garbled words. The idea for it was sparked by Web videos of people putting in dental mouthpieces and getting the giggles when they tried to speak clearly.”