- Domino's has called off a promotion in Russia that offered 100 free pizzas per year for 100 years to fans who agreed to get a tattoo of the brand's logo and share it on social media, Fast Company reports.
- A franchisee launched the stunt to drive social media traffic. Much of the Domino's-themed ink simply featured the brand's logo, while some consumers incorporated the logo into more intricate designs.
- The pizza chain stopped the gimmick after too many fans started getting the tattoos. In all, about 350 people got a logo tattoo and qualified for the free pizzas.
That consumers would go to such permanent lengths for free pizza for life could be an indication that Domino's has some serious fans in Russia — or that tattoos aren't a big deal for some, but free pizza is. Mostly, the news is an indication of how brands can take their marketing stunts a little too far and possibly harm a brand's reputation, an important lesson as brands appear to be less risk-averse in an era when consumers are interested in viral social media content. Marketers often embrace gimmicks to drum up social media traffic and garner media attention, which they hope will translate into sales. The Domino's tattoo promotion may have boosted social media engagement, but the franchise could also take a hit with having to serve so many free pizzas. Not to mention, the brand may generate bad will by quickly pulling the offer.
This isn't the first time that a U.S. restaurant chain has had to walk back a marketing stunt in Russia. In June, Burger King Russia ran a social media campaign that offered free Whoppers for life and 3 million rubles (about $47,000) to women who could prove they were impregnated by players on Russia's World Cup team, since Russia was hosting the soccer tournament. The campaign drew heavy criticism and was short lived, with the brand apologizing on social media and admitting the gimmick was offensive.
In the U.S., KFC recently announced a promotion that will award an $11,000 college donation to the first baby named Harland, after the company's founder Colonel Harland Sanders, that was born on Sept. 9, the Colonel's 128th birthday. The campaign announcement left many speculating on whether it was a joke, but KFC doesn't seem to have experienced much backlash for the stunt.
Domino's controlled a 14.2% share of pizza sales in the U.S. in 2017, compared to 13.2% for Pizza Hut and 7.2% for Papa Johns, according to CNBC citing analysts. The company's dominance is due to its strong loyalty program, improved ingredients and embracing of technology, which have helped Domino's hold on to a long growth streak with 29 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth.