Domino’s chief executive Don Meij. Photo: Glenn Hunt Domino’s adds new toppings. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

‘Biggest announcement in 20 years’ … one of Domino’s Pizza’s Facebook banners.

Domino’s ‘game changer’ campaign backfires

Domino’s Pizza boss Don Meij has been forced to publicly defend the massive hype leading up to yesterday’s announcement that promised to “revolutionise” the nation’s pizza industry, arguing that his new range of premium toppings priced at $8 was indeed a “revolution”.

Mr Meij went further this morning, telling BusinessDay that Domino’s was “democratising” pizza, and that his competitors would be forced to follow his new price regime.

The Domino’s boss also denied that he had misled the sharemarket, analysts, investors and the media when, during an earnings briefing for the publicly listed company on February 13, he foreshadowed today’s pizza launch by saying he had a new product launch that would “revolutionise the Australian pizza industry”.

It was also promised that the announcement would be the biggest for Domino’s in 20 years.

Shares in Domino’s dropped 3.3 per cent this morning as customers prepared for their pizza revolution – fuelled by an intense social-media campaign – and were instead greeted with the introduction of new premium toppings and square bases priced at $8 each.

“I definitely don’t think we have misled the market,” Mr Meij told BusinessDay this morning.

“Definitely think this is a significant change, definitely think that when you can sell an $8 premium pizza with peking duck, and blue cheese, pork belly …. you tell me in Melbourne right now where you can get an $8 pizza with that on it,” Mr Meij said.

“You have to pay two and a half times that in a gourmet restaurant.

“An $8 premium pizza with peking duck with pork belly, with Barossa Valley shiraz infused lamb – $8 that is different, this is significant.”

Asked if it was a “revolution”, Mr Meij said it indeed was.

“We are democratising great pizza and that’s what we do – we continue to create amazing value … now we are just taking it to another level where we are completely recreating value. We think the category will be forced into what is a revolution, when you also force a category to follow, we have done this consistently.

“We are saying we are going to give you a loaded premium pizza for just $8 that is really changing things. Anything that’s got anything near that, you are going to be paying 2.5 times that price – that is really changing (the category).

He said it was like placing a Lexus in between the price of a Camry and a Corolla, or selling a premium hamburger at McDonald’s below that of a Big Mac. Domino’s Pizza has created a massive following on social media in the past few years, driven especially by younger customers who are interested in social media and are also traditionally large consumers of pizza. The pizza maker is the fifth-biggest Australian brand on Facebook.

A section of those social media fans revolted this morning, unimpressed and let down by the promised revolution, posting negative comments on some sites. Mr Meij denied reports those comments were removed, saying only that profane comments were taken down.

“Fifty-five per cent of the feedback we get on Facebook is negative and we are one of the few companies that absolutely suck that in … we absolutely want that feedback.”

Mr Meij said the share price fall today could be influenced by the small amount of negative comments on Facebook.

“If anybody over-reacts to a couple of Facebook comments, that’s a shareholder’s prerogative,” he said.

“We absolutely believe that going into this with all the research we set for this that this is going to change the picture. And what does revolution mean? I guarantee you our competitors will be forced to follow.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.