Never bring a knife to a gun fight, or an attorney to a PR/advertising battle.
That’s the lesson in the “2009 Battle of the Toasted Sandwiches.” Here’s a quick blow-by-blow recap (see Adweek for more):
- Dominos issues an independent taste test comparing its oven-baked sandwiches to Subway’s. Since they couldn’t obviously test every variation, they use the ones featured in Subway’s ads, which happen to include veggies (they’re more photogenic even if most people don’t get them that way).
- Consumers picked Dominos over the Subways sandwiches, and Dominos launches an ad campaign to boast.
- Subway makes a tragic but sadly common mistake… instead of devising a clever ad/PR response, it sends a cease and desist letter. Candidly, I haven’t read the letters or Subway’s complete position, so I doubt most others have.
- In a bold move, Dominos settles takes the situation to court… the court of public opinion.
- Dominos debuted its ad on American Idol, an now has it on the homepage of YouTube.
Subway could have issued its own taste-test, or taken the high-road. But instead, it gifted Dominos with more attention. And people won’t ever remember that the letter may have merits on how the test was performed… they’ll just remembered that Dominos is cooking up sandwiches and ads that piss of Subway. What does that suggest?
My first agency job was a traffic internship (I shuttled projects through silos), and I learned something I won’t soon forget. The account supervisor (the only guy who wore a tie in the agency) explained that Dominos was not a food company, but a fast-delivery service that happened to deliver pizza. Food quality came second to speed.
And here’s proof that while Dominos can’t still deliver in 30 minutes, it can cook up a campaign quickly. Dominos CEO David Brandon (appearing in his first ever commercial) is seen here tossing Subway’s “cease and desist” letter into a Dominos oven. Dominos may not be the tastiest, but they deliver alright. Yes, they deliver.