The Power of “We Screwed Up Marketing” to Save Your Brand and Business

by Marcus Sheridan

5 years ago, Dominos Pizza was terrible.

Their ingredients were cheap.

The pizza tasted like it had been frozen, recycled, and then left out in the sun all day.

And because of this their brand, and business, were on the brink of ruin.

Then, one day, they made a simple statement to the world, which sounded something like this:

Our food sucks. But we’ve heard your complaints, we’ve listened, and we’ve made big changes. Give us another try.”

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I can remember my thoughts as I watched that commercial on TV the first time:

“Yes, your pizza does suck…Yes, you screwed up…Wow, you’re actually admitting it…and dang, your new pizza appears pretty good…”

A few weeks later, after years of not wanting to eat the flavored cardboard that was Dominos Pizza, I gave the company a second chance. And after one simple bite, Dominos had managed to find what had once been lost—a customer.

Think about that for a second—its simplicity and power is profound. Yet my story with Dominos isn’t unique. In fact, hundreds and thousands of other pizza lovers saw this campaign from Dominos and gave the company another try.

This campaign by Dominos was named “Oh, Yes We Did” and I honestly think it will go down as one of the greatest examples of transparent and honest marketing of the last 100 years—causing the company’s stock prices to soar as competitors like Pizza Hut and Papa Johns have been left scratching their heads, wondering how they’ve lost so much market share so quickly.

And if we break it down in simple terms, Dominos established what I feel is a masterful guide to what I call “We Screwed Up Marketing”—an essential component of embracing The Honest Economy. The steps go like this:

1. Actually listen to customer feedback.

2. If your product or service stinks (based on said feedback), admit it to yourself.

3. Once you’ve admitted it to yourself, admit it to your customers—tell them you screwed up.

4. Now tell your customers exactly what you’re going to do to “make it right.”

Pretty simple, isn’t it?

Yes, it is, but most companies will never go down this road of transparency, honesty, and humility.

There are many industries(cough…auto…cough) that could learn from the Dominos turnaround. Heck, even a few in Washington would benefit from a dose of “We Screwed Up Marketing.”

But, most likely, those brands and businesses (big and small) that are failing will continue to deny what is plain and evident to the rest of man-kind, missing an incredible opportunity at redemption in a world always thirsting for another great comeback story.

Your Turn

Can you remember your reaction to the Dominos commercials? Did you give them another try? Are there other brands you’ve seen do this well? And what brands do you think could learn the most from Dominos’ approach?

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