Aishwarya Ramesh

It's "safe" to order pizza, Domino's assures families in new ad

Domino's brings science into its sales pitch. It says that pizza is baked at 465 degrees Fahrenheit, and untouched by human hands.

The Coronavirus pandemic has drastically affected business in the food delivery sector, and the road to recovery looks long and winding.

In light of the current circumstances, Domino’s has released an ad which features a family gathering around, and enjoying, a hot pizza. The ad, which has been made by FCB India, has close-up shots of the pizza, as well as family members of different ages eating it.

The ad’s emphasis isn’t on giving the kitchen a ‘break’ but, instead, on how ‘safe’ it is to order pizza from Domino’s. Visuals of the ad show gloved hands kneading and tossing the pizza dough to emphasise that it is ‘untouched’ by human hands. The ad’s emphasis is also on contactless deliveries.

Domino’s is one of the early brands that pioneered food delivery in India, with a promise to deliver piping hot pizzas in 30 minutes, or less. Zomato entered the Indian food delivery market around 2015, a year after its rival Swiggy. Domino’s continued to play the delivery game – supplemented by orders from these food delivery platforms, as well as its own app.

Once the Coronavirus began spreading in India, food delivery apps/businesses saw a dip in their sales numbers. The nationwide lockdown came into effect on March 25, 2020. On April 4, The Economic Times reported that in just under 10 days, online food delivery orders for Zomato and Swiggy were down by 70 per cent, to under one million orders per day. Domino’s has been in trouble because of a rumour that one of its delivery personnel had contracted the Coronavirus.

Surjo Dutt, NCD, FCB, explains that the brief from Domino’s was to communicate that the pizza it makes is safe for consumption. So, they decided to show the science behind making it.

“Whether it’s the fact that no human hands come in contact with any of the ingredients, or the extreme heat through which the pizza travels to eradicate germs and viruses, or the fact that they are delivered without any contact as well – all this was needed to be communicated in a way that entices the audience back into ordering pizza,” said Dutt.

Surjo Dutt
Surjo Dutt

He says that the one-point strategy behind this piece was to bring back the love for Domino’s, and make people crave for it and miss it in their lives. “Craving is seldom dependent on age, is it? Whether it’s a 15-year-old, or 50-year-old, the love of pizza is universal. And the safety measures undertaken by Domino’s make it equally safe for people of all ages.”

Dutt mentions that the TG for this commercial includes two main groups – parents, who’re overloaded with household and office work, as well as kids who’re craving the taste of pizza and getting bored of home-cooked food. “With opportunities of dining out being almost non-existent in the current scenario, ordering home a safely made pizza becomes the next best option,” says Dutt.

KV Sridhar, or ‘Pops’ as he’s popularly known as, founder and chief creative officer of Hyper Collective (a cross-disciplinary innovations company, calls ads like these the need of the hour, given the fears around the virus spreading. As an afterthought, he says, ads like these will very much be part of the ‘new normal’ because life, as we know it, is not going to return to normalcy, at least in the next one year.

'Pops' KV Sridhar
'Pops' KV Sridhar

“All these years, Domino’ was focused on speedy delivery, but in the current situation, a customer will not mind waiting an extra 10 minutes for a pizza, as long as it is made in a safe and hygienic way,” he says. For Domino’s, this isn’t as much a shift in brand positioning as it is realigning of the brand message to keep up with the changing times.

The irony is not lost on Pops when he points out that people were more scared when there were a few hundred cases in the country and that after multiple lockdowns, there is a growing sense of impatience as people want to return to some sense of normalcy.

Pops adds that that there is plenty of information in the public domain that proves that ordering food (food delivery) is safe, as long as it is done in a hygienic manner. “Premium brands like Domino’s and McDonald’s won’t have difficulty convincing their audience that the food they’ve prepared is safe. Street food outlets that are signature to certain cities (such as Bademiya’s in Mumbai) will suffer. Simply because hygienic preparation make them lose out on their signature flavour,” he says.

When asked about the ad itself and the messaging, Pops explains that the family and the home space is a significant one right now, simply because people can’t go out. He argues that an ad filmmaker can’t portray a bunch of friends hanging out together as that would be a violation of lockdown norms. “If they show that a senior citizen is consuming a pizza, and that it’s safe for her, that means it’s safe for everyone,” he says.

Pops points out that this line of thinking is similar to the concept of young mothers using soap meant for their babies because they felt something that was safe enough to be used on a baby’s skin was safe enough to be used on their own skin, too.

"If they show that a senior citizen is consuming a pizza, and that it’s safe for her, that means it’s safe for everyone"
KV Sreedhar aka Pops

He calls the entire communication strategic in nature and apt for these times because Domino’s is a product that is meant for home consumption. “The ad, however, looks a little plastic with its close-up shots of family members appreciating the pizza. It does its job, no complaints there, but nobody acts like that in real life. If an ad looks more authentic and natural, then more people will believe you. The TG for this ad seems clearly focused on social media and internet users,” he says.

Pops concludes by saying that this ad is not meant to convince users to eat a pizza, but to convince them that it is safe to order and consume (it) in the first place.

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