The internet is abuzz today with reports of the two Domino’s employees who tampered with food, videotaped it, and uploaded it to YouTube. As Emily Bryson York writes in the April 14 AdAge, “…two youths identifying themselves as Kristy and Michael besmirch a pair of sub sandwiches and the pizza chain’s reputation. Michael inserts pieces of cheese into his nose and waves pieces of salami behind his backside. Both the salami and the cheese are placed on the sandwiches. The video had gotten more than 21,000 YouTube views at press time. ” (UPDATE, April 16: According to AdAge, from April 14 to 15, the number of YouTube views had jumped from 21,000 to 760,000.)
The offending (and offensive) video can be found below. A warning: If you’re looking for either humor or intelligence, this is not the video for you. (UPDATE, April 16: The video below has been taken off YouTube for “copyright” reasons. You may be able to find it elsewhere online.)
The video, its circulation and the resulting Internet buzz clearly point out the importance of monitoring brand reputation. No need to elaborate on that point further, except to say I’m quite surprised that, according to the April 14 AdAge article, Domino’s had “decided not to issue a press release or post a statement online” because “a strong response from Domino’s would alert more consumers to the embarrassment.” By today, their stance had changed: Domino’s president Patrick Doyle has posted a response video on YouTube (see below). Still, the response time is not what it could have been.
(UPDATE, April 16: Domino’s has also been active on Twitter, responding to posts in real-time with the handle “dpzinfo.” The Twitter-verse generally gives high marks for this level of engagement and for the video below. Certainly, there’s more Domino’s should and will do to respond.)
More troublesome, to me, is the behavior of the employees. I’m not going to suggest that this kind of thing doesn’t happen elsewhere and often, because I’ve worked in restaurants and I know better. However, I’m also a believer in a kind of “implicit contract”: When you agree to work for an organization, you should strive to help that organization succeed (or at the very least do it no harm), no matter how unhappy you may be with the organization, your job or yourself. If you find yourself unable to do that, then do the honorable thing and quit. Both parties – employer and employee – have legal and ethical responsibilities, whether overtly stated or not.
According to Domino’s president Patrick Doyle in the above video, the “two team members have been dismissed, and there are felony warrants out for their arrest.” Whatever their ultimate punishment, it will pale in comparison to the potential damage they’ve done to the Domino’s brand.
The internet and social media provide tremendous opportunities for voices to be heard. But with that comes responsibility. This is an example of what happens when that responsibility is ignored. I hope the two employees in question pay a significant price for their inane choices.
About Matthew Fenton: Matthew founded Three Deuce Branding in 1997 with a simple mission: “To help good people build great brands.” He’s a former CMO who repeatedly led underdog brands to dramatically outpace the market, and now he does the same for the clients he serves. Businesses with revenues of seven to ten figures trust Matthew to help them achieve “brand clarity” through core brand strategy and positioning. Matthew is also a highly-rated speaker. Contact Matthew here. He’s based in Chicago.
Copyright 2009 – Matthew Fenton. All Rights Reserved. You may reprint this article with the original, unedited text intact, including the About Matthew Fenton section.