Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Domino's Pizza and Truth in Advertising

This Domino's pizza commercial is high-larious, and makes me want to talk about so many things. First, let's watch it together:

Surely by now you are familiar with Domino's masochistic new ad campaign, in which they talk in detail about how terrible Domino's pizza is. Apparently this controversial approach is working, and Domino's saw their fourth-quarter profits double.

The transparency train rolls on with the above spot, which unfolds like an episode of 20/20, blowing the lid off the rampant food styling that takes place during commercial shoots. A woman wearing gloves pulls the cheese off just so! The pizza is bolted to the table! A minion with a pair of tweezers picks through individual mozzarella curds! I guess we're supposed to be totally shocked and incensed by the straight-up LIES that TV is selling us, and the fact that the pizza is not natural.

Instead of rallying against this bill of goods, I kind of just thought the things that were done to the pizza made good sense, and were extremely reasonable. I mean, they use heat the cheese! So it pulls better! Makes sense! The pizza is bolted to the table, but so what? It's still the same pizza. If you're going to take a smug, superior stance against food styling, you need to have something in your pocket like the cheese is actually an Elmers Glue/soy milk/caulk compound, or the pepperoni is glazed with nail polish, or the whole thing is run through Photoshop before it appears on the screen.

Food styling happens because food is gross, and TV makes things look gross, and food on TV looks super gross. You know what else goes through styling for TV? Everything. People's faces. Nature. Puppies. Ice cream. When I stare at the TV (ie. always), I want things to look magical and delicious and not of this world.

Actually, Paul and I were watching Food Network the other day, and he mentioned how extremely over-saturated the colors on the food shots are. The talking heads and hosts would look totally normal, and then they would show a shot of an oozing grilled cheese sandwich, and it would look INSANE, like the grilled cheese was popping out of the screen and wanted to be a part of your life, which is the ideal way for grilled cheese to be.

I guess my basic philosophy is: yes. Let's do this. Let's make things look awesome, even if, in real life, they are not as awesome. In real life, a sandwich is just a sandwich, but at least on TV I can watch someone freak out over the Platonic ideal of grilled cheese, and when you pull the halves apart, the angels sing.

Also, Domino's Pizza, it is difficult for me to get on board with your ad campaign of self-flagellation and piousness and honesty and respect for the consumer and "getting back to basics" when it is, after all, an ad campaign, born of meetings and data and reports and focus groups. Honesty in advertising is desirable only if it is effective in generating sales. That is literally the only reason it's important - if it strengthens the brand and more people buy Domino's, and the stock goes up. Which is fine! Domino's needs to sell their pizza! That is their whole job. I guess my issue is that the ads communicate an emotion and motivation which is deceptive. They say "We want to be honest with you because we respect you," but really, they only want to be honest because the perception of honesty is selling a whole bunch of pizza. I was actually OK with the whole "Our pizza is bad, but we are trying to make it better" angle. Straighforward, and I could actually buy it. But pretending that you want to strip the falsehood and glamour away from television for any reason other than because you will benefit from it financially? I just can't let you play TV like that - we go way back.

Via The Awl

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