The Domino’s Effect

Kristy Hammonds is having a very bad day. Not only is she featured in the nauseating Domino’s pizza YouTube video that threatens to torpedo the company, her name is prominently displayed as the person who ordered the video removed from YouTube. The video showed two dumb and dumber Domino’s workers, Hammonds being one of them, performing bodily functions on food before serving it to unsuspecting customers.

Mid-day yesterday, when I viewed the video, it had approximately 400,000 views. By the time it was yanked by Hammonds it was reportedly up to nearly a million views. TV news has excerpted grosser segments of the video on broadcasts and YouTubers, angered by Hammonds censorship, have replicated the video in various permutations to get around YouTube copyright barricades. 

 A spirited discussion on Ragan.com about the initially lame and remarkably dismissive response from Domino’s PR ( We “don’t want to put the candle out with a fire hose,” said the PR rep, explaining why they were not issuing a press release, a video or Twittering a response) escalated in the course of the day. Domino’s did not aggressively counter the video or reassure the public about their hygiene and food prep standards. They called the employees “idiots,” fired them and banned video cameras from their stores.

“Right now, it’s on Web sites and blogs. It’s not ABC, CNN or USA Today,” said Tim McIntyre, Domino’s VP of Communications. Big mistake. Virtually every major news outlet, including the ones McIntyre mentions, have reported this story. How could they not? It confirms everybody’s worst nightmare about what goes on in the kitchens of these fast food joints.

When Hammonds was arrested later in the day, things got worse. As reported by local news, Hammonds is a registered sex offender with a lengthy rap sheet (see first video below).

So, not only do we have serious questions about Domino’s food preparation standards, we question their hiring practices. Finally, Domino’s President Patrick Doyle issued his own YouTube video deploring the actions of Hammonds and her cohort (see last video below).  Doyle is appropriately indignant but he is not looking at the camera (connecting to his audience). Longer term issues, such as the quality of the product that Domino’s offers (see second video down), need to be addressed.

This is a cataclysmic event for the company. They can scurry about as if they are under attack or they can use the opportunity to reinvent themselves internally and in the eyes of the public. This all happened in 24 hours. Welcome to the world of online communication.

 

Comments

  1. Sabrina says:

    As a journalism student who is focusing on Public Relations, it is very hard for me to understand why they would try to play off the importance of this incident/video. We are taught that the best way to manage something like this is to appear genuinely sorry and show that you are doing everything possible to fix the situation and reassure the public. By Domino’s saying they don’t want to “put out a candle with a hose” they are playing down the importance which is a big mistake because customers are genuinely concerned about the food they eat, especially when it’s not prepared in front of them. I also think they should take this time to hire someone who understands the influence that online videos and communication can have, and can try to manage any type of news that has to do with the company and at least be aware as to what is going around. Maybe if they wouldn’t have underestimated how quickly the public can gain knowledge and how important it is to take care of issues quickly and properly, their image wouldn’t be going down the drain.

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