NEW YORK Will Domino's and its high-flying ad shop Crispin Porter + Bogusky get burned by claims made in the chain's ads?
The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has asked the client to change or discontinue promotional claims regarding its "Oven Baked" sandwich line.
When Domino's launched its hot sandwich offerings in January, it took the aggressive tack of claiming its sandwiches beat the taste of Subway's 2-to-1 in a national taste test.
Subway countered with a cease-and-desist letter, which Domino's CEO David Brandon then set on fire in the chain's follow-up round of TV advertising . While entertaining, it may not have made for accurate marketing, per the NAD.
The NAD took issue with the fact that consumers might interpret Domino's claims too broadly. While the taste test only applied to specific sandwiches, the NAD felt consumers might believe the results applied to all Subway sandwiches. Additionally, Subway's line of sandwiches has changed since the ad campaign kicked off.
The NAD recommended that the commercials "be discontinued or modified to make a more limited taste preference claim, expressly limited to the specific sandwiches tested."
"The most valuable information for consumers is comparative information that is truthful," said NAD director Andrea Levine. "An overly broad superiority claim can have an unfairly negative effect on competitors' products. All companies would like to be able to say that their product is better in all respects, but if their product is better only in certain respects, then the claim isn't truthful."
Domino's has had a tough second quarter from a public relation's standpoint. In April, some former employees posted an online video of themselves performing grotesque actions with Domino's ingredients. The chain publicly apologized for the incident.
Domino's said in a statement that it would "take NAD's recommendations into account for its future advertising, including modifications in light of Subway's changes to its product line. Domino's appreciates the opportunity to participate in the self-regulatory process and NAD's careful consideration of the issues in this manner."
Jeff Moody, CEO of the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust, said he was pleased with the NAD's findings. "We believe the quality and variety of our sandwiches are second to none and are proud to be the world's largest submarine sandwich chain," he said.
Domino's doled out $49 million on ads during the first quarter when the campaign broke, per Nielsen. Subway spent $116 million on media during the same period.