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The Second In What I Can Only Assume Will Continue To Be A Series Of Rants Against Advertising: On Pizza

October 8, 2011

Sometimes in life one needs to set hard and fast personal ruls in order to better define one’s own place in the world. One of these rules for me is a flat refusal to eat Domino’s pizza.

To my likely incomplete knowledge, Domino’s has committed three major errors in my lifetime. The first had been generally making terrible pizza. Chain pizza is guaranteed to be infinitely worse than anything you come up with in your own kitchen, but many of the other chains have their appeals, the hooks that make a late night/drunken call for pizza an American past-time: Pizza Hut has the whole greasy, fluffy thing going for it; Papa John’s has that sweet sauce and bready crust; Donato’s has mastered the Midwestern chain pie. Domino’s on the other hand has nothing in its pizza to distinguish it from the cardboard you buy in a grocery store. This is a sizeable issue for a national pizza chain, but the fact that the pizza is bad would not have been enough to stop me from guiltily indulging from time to time, especially if I found myself in one of those common situations in which free pizza is used as an incentive for attendance.

Then came strike number two. When Domino’s launched their “new recipe” campaign, I gave it a shot in good faith. What they came up with was an augmentation of everything I hate about chain pizza: a sweeter sauce, not a square inch left unmolested by goopey, greasy cheese, and insane amounts of garlic “butter” on the crust. I can’t understand how anyone could think that slathering a pie in garlic butter would immediately fix a terrible pizza, when everyone knows that real pizza doesn’t need cheap gimmickry. The stuff has gone from mildly inoffensive to blasphemous. It’s so bad that when I bought it for my bandmates (note, hungry college kids) after a long day of recording music, almost all of it went uneaten. It’s the result of actions that are the total antithesis to what makes a great pizza.

Great pizza is an exercise in restraint, a carefully composed balance between crust and sauce. Indeed, the hallmark of Italian cooking, when contrasted with other major food cultures like the French, is simple execution with perfect ingredients. This reflects the Italian value of food that can be prepared at home with friends, food that is full of integrity because of how little it has been tampered with. Instead, what Domino’s has done with its new pizza is to overwhelm the senses with a heap of crap ingredients designed to distract eaters from the fact that they are consuming a sin.

But wasn’t this supposed to be about advertising? My main issue with the ad is this: the whole “we accept our criticism” angle is a bit like that guy who says “Look, I’ll admit I fucked up” in an attempt to expedite his forgiveness; he’s not actually sorry, he just doesn’t want you to be pissed anymore. Supposedly, this admission of wrongdoing endears the offender in our eyes, and makes us more willing to forgive. But when such apologies are carried out by deceptive advertising and even worse pizza, the entire effort reeks of insincerity. And as I just finished explaining, pizza is all about sincerity. The big hunks of fancy looking cheese on the counter? The sad music when the pizza execs hear that nobody likes Domino’s anymore? It’s fake. It’s hokey fake garbage. The other thing that really infuriates me about this campaign is that it seems to be working. Even though there are arguably more amazing pizza restaurants in America today than at any other time (shoutout to Rubino’s), this is discouraging news for those who want to spread the joy awesome pies.

And here I haven’t even gotten to strike number three. This article unfortunately reminded me of a new ad campaign that I had willfully purged from my memory some weeks ago. The article actually also says everything I wanted to say: “Artisan” appears next in a succession of words (“natural,” “real,” “healthy”) that have lost their meaning since being appropriated by mass marketing. Throwing feta on a pizza doesn’t make it any more”artisan” than garlic butter makes a pizza “good.” Additionally, as the article points out, this new ad campaign is just terribly confusing. The new “artisan” pizzas are apparently made by Domino’s employees who “are not artisans.” What does this even mean? The effect is supposed to remind us that, while the pizza is “special,” it is still not pretentious. Instead what I get out of it is a sick feeling in my gut, and a strengthening resolve to never eat Domino’s again.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 11, 2011 5:24 pm

    So true. What a fucking waste

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