Thursday, January 22, 2009

New trend in marketing: Flipping lawyers the bird

Another day, another restaurant commercial that plays off a cease-and-desist letter. This one has Domino’s CEO David Brandon refusing to comply with a directive from lawyers for Subway, whose sandwiches fared poorly in taste comparisons with the pizza chain’s new oven-baked subs. The new spot shows Brandon incinerating the demand that his chain stop airing commercials based on the taste tests. Fittingly, he uses one of the ovens in which the new Domino’s subs are baked.

“This is as much fun as a good, old-fashioned school cafeteria food fight,” Brandon declares in a statement, even though you can sense he’s never tossed a hotdog or flung a dish of Jello in his life. I’d bet his idea of high school hijinks was reading in bad light.

But you have to give him (or his PR person) credit for adding, “I think I did what any red-blooded American always wants to do with a letter from a lawyer: burn it to a crisp.”

Indeed, rebellion against lawyers is very “in” in restaurant marketing right now. Yesterday brought Captain D’s new anti-C-and-D spot, where a spokesman shreds a cease-and-desist communication from counselors for Darden Restaurants, parent of the Red Lobster sit-down seafood chain. Captain D’s has been featuring Lobster patrons in a spot that unfavorably compares the full-service chain’s value to what’s offered at the smaller fast-food operation. The ad, like the new commercial that shows the letter being destroyed, is shot in front of a Red Lobster.

Like Captain D’s, Domino’s is refusing to pull its comparative spots, which assert that consumers preferred its sandwiches 2-to-1 over Subway’s specialties in a taste comparison.

If this keeps up, lawyers are going to start levying a creative-services fee. And then sue if they don't get it.

Subway has not yet publicly responded to the new Domino's commercials, which started airing last night on "American Idol."

1 comment:

Dat said...

Good post, thank you. I've seen companies in other industries start getting too big, so lawyers come in to protect it from any possible liabilities. Adding new rules that are not practical for running a lean and efficient machine. Then the lawyers start influencing company decisions that keep the reputation up, but drags quality, efficiency and common sense down the tubes. Crazy.

Would love to have you do a guest post if you could, let's talk soon?

Dat To