Thinking pop culture

Thinking pop culture

Take another little pizza my heart now, baby

Domino’s Vegetarian special.

Carb-love and vegetarianism might have seen me pay more attention to the Domino’s story than had a burger chain been involved, but my real interest lies in the “anticlimax”.

For the past week, TV ads have been running with Domino’s honcho Don Meij promising a pizza “game changer”.

Staged not unlike a press conference, the announcements promised fast-food revolution and a whole new face for pizza.

That pizza box was prised open today and we ended up with pork belly, blue cheese and grilled beef. For $8. Pizza fans feel a bit jibbed, apparently.

My bleedin’ heartness dictates that I’m all for feeling emotions to their full extent, but even I have to ask just how much bloody devastation or deception can be felt around pizza?

As I see it, emotional pain is commensurate with input: it hurts more when we spend more time/money/energy on it, or when we loved harder or wished most fervently for it.

So just how much wishin’ and a hopin’ can possibly be centered on a Domino’s Christmas? Just how much grief, anguish or jibbed-ment can be felt here?

An equally worthwhile question is what possible pizza initiative could have justified the game-changer tag? What possible watershed moment in the history of pizza could have kept the hungry sated?

There answer of course is nothing: Meij can star in ads a'plenty, hype loud and hype proud and Tweet until the cows come home and he’s still only going to give us pizza. Because - shock horror - he’s a pizza seller.

If, in a focus group, I was paid a penny for my pizza thoughts my wishin’ and a hopin’ would have centred on calories, on carbs. Less and less of both, thanks. And maybe caramelised onions. (Properly caramelised with the brown sugar and the vinegar). Not a game-changer, no, but I’d be content. Because I understand there’s only so much a pizza can promise.

Pizza can’t get Melbourne’s temperatures below 30. Pizza can’t bring about gender equality. Pizza can’t bring peace to the Middle East (well, not really). It’s pizza, let’s not go crazy.

Admen love phrases like game-changer, cutting-edge, revolutionary and ground-breaking. Not exclusively because they’re buzzy and attention-grabbing, but because they’re immeasurable. Immeasurable, unprovable and ultimately meaningless. Nothing countable, nothing to point to and say “nuh-uh” and certainly nothing to constitute deceit.

The campaign has quickly been dubbed a fizzer, but me and I’d caution a rush to condemn.

Successful campaigns are not exclusively measured by sales. Other things like brand recognition and media mentions are also counted. Tick and tick.

Also probed are the unintended consequences: a personal favourite topic. Run a sexist or racist campaign and you might offend some but you might solidify - if not excite - your base. Run an over-promise/under-deliver campaign and what’s the worst that can happen? Will anyone really choose not to spend their pizza pennies at Domino’s because of one ho-hum Grand Reveal?

We’re all talking about the product: one enormous tick for the campaign. And a few people might even go out and try the pork belly and ask themselves whether putting mouldy cheese in their mouths is a sane choice.

No harm, no foul and certainly no more deception than advertising doles out daily.

The NZ two-words-different version.