Most businesses find themselves competing with a plethora of new and rising firms, each relatively small in size and find their survival hugely dependent on the firm’s ability to craft a specific niche within the mass market.
There are, however, businesses that compete with a smaller number of key competitors and they typically do not target a specific niche of the market but rather aim to maintain the equilibrium of the competition by serving the whole of the market. The movie theater industry and the coffee industry are classic examples of this, and the car rental industry in the 1960s is yet another often-cited example.
In Part 1 of this series: The The treacherous water of Challenger Brand strategy, we talk about how the modelling of Avis’ past successes might not be as sunny as it seems on the surface. We looked at how the Challenger brand positioning might actually go wrong, and how the perception of a successful brand strategy can varies between the creator and consumer.
Seeing how problematic and treacherous the challenger brand strategy can turn out to be, industry challengers commonly disregard the challenger brand strategy and opted for a differentiation strategy. In other words, to admit that the market leader is best at what they do, but “we’re offering something different”.
But today we’re talking about something more interesting than that. We’re talking about how market leaders can possibly react — or rather, counteract — when its closest competitor come threatening its share of dominance.
Speaking of which, wouldn’t it be interesting to look at Domino’s Pizza since we’re on the subject of dominance.
Group 243, the consultant for Domino’s Pizza created a wildly popular marketing campaign named “Avoid the Noid” in 1986 and such was the popularity of the campaign the company has to make a follow-up with “Return of the Noid” in 2011, 25 years after the character Noid debutted in 1986.
As part of its marketing effort, “Avoid the Noid” brings along with it a video game for MS-DOS. If you have even the most vague idea of what I meant by MS-DOS, we probably were neighbors growing up next to each other during childhood.
Noid was named so “as a physical manifestation of the challenges inherit in getting a pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less”. (Thus, “Noid” as the one who gets pizza fans annoyed). In the commercials, Noid is the notorious villain that would do whatever it can to get in the way of Domino’s Pizza delivery but in the end, justice will prevail and Domino’s Pizza will be served in top condition. Camera zooms in as the Domino’s Pizza labelled box unfolds itself revealing a hot tasty pizza.
Is Noid a villainous mascot always on a mission to destroy Domino’s Pizza?
No. Noid doesn’t has a problem with Domino’s Pizza, it has a problem with everybody’s pizza! The difference might be subtle but is a very important one. Why? Because the idea behind those ads was that ultimately, You are putting up with Noid and it is You trying to avoid Noid. But wasn’t the pizza delivery guy supposed to be the one putting up with the Noid?
No, and you’ll find out why soon.
See, Noid doesn’t have a problem with Domino’s Pizza although it is sometimes misunderstood as such. Noid is just a silly bunny, dressed up in a jumpsuit and acting without specific purpose or plan. It’s goal is to cause as many annoyances as possible to prevent you from having your hands on hot, tasty pizzas.
The message behind these ads was that you, the hungry consumer, can and should avoid the Noid (which is the depiction of late-arriving, crashed or frozen pizza). Noid doesn’t symbolizes bad pizzas, it symbolizes undesirable outcomes of a bad pizza delivery experience. The clue? Go with the pizza delivery experts and order Domino’s. Extra clue? Watch the following video (pause at 0:27):
Nobody Delivers Better
“Avoid the Noid” is a marketing campaign with a very specific message. It may be subliminal or it may be apparent to some, but Domino’s Pizza is promoting a strong message that they are the market leader, and why compromise for anything lesser only to put up with Noid the annoying bunny? If for any reason you can’t watch the video, here’s what it’s written across the screen at 0:27, it says “Nobody Delivers Better”.
Was Domino’s Pizza claiming supremacy over their the quality and standards of their pizza? No.
It was its market leadership and superiority in pizza delivery that Domino’s Pizza is asserting. Before a close competitor behind could pop in with the “We’re no.2. We try harder” lines. Avis could have said “the line at our counter is shorter” when they’re in the car rental industry, up against Hertz. Could Domino’s Pizza’s competitors have pulled the same trick?
Now, here is an advertisement that promotes the “Nobody Delivers Better” tagline. It is launched right after a period when Domino’s has just started to market their 30 minutes delivery guarantee. The “30 minutes or less” promise started in 1973 (today, in countries like Singapore and Malaysia the company still practiced the “30 minutes of Free” offer) and by the 1980s competing brands were picking up the trend and what began as an innovation has become the norm. The industry standard.
Having to put up stiff competition from close competitors like Little Caesars and Pizza Hut, the company engaged Group 243 and the brilliance of the idea was its simplicity: Domino’s wanted you and me to “Avoid the Noid” by choosing the industry’s No.1 because “Nobody delivers better”.
Pins: Avoid the Noid pins Domino’s Pizza delivery guys used to wear.
Advertising scholars would refer such positioning strategy as the preemptive strategy. When consumers have associated qualities of reliability, service superiority, and punctuality with Domino’s Pizza, the formed association would nullify the effort of any challenger brand strategy whom admittedly reduces themselves to “We’re only no.2. We try harder”.
That’s what Domino’s Pizza’s after. The assurance that when it comes to pizza delivery, you only want the top guys to do it because “nobody delivers better”. Why not second best, if second best is good enough? Well, not if you want to put up with the Noid — whatever the Noid means to the consumer.
The preemptive strategy shows up in competitive advertising where one competitor tries to build a position or lay a claim before others enter the market.
Source: Advertising & IMC: Principles and Practice (authored by Sandra Morirty, Nancy Mitchell and William Wells)
Was the marketing campign catchy? Does the message sticks? You bet. “The Noid” was so popular because as a villain, Noid is also very entertaining and it’s mischievous is a reminiscence of iconic family entertainment like Tom and Jerry. A video game was made out of it, t-shirts, comics and anything in between comes shipped with the Noid. At one point, it’s difficult to tell that children actually likes Domino’s Pizza, or they’re just after the entertainment.
But as far as we’re concerned, the Noid has done a great job at what he has set out to do, apart from destroying pizzas.
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