Creative: Critique – Domino Effect

Domino Effect
Bad Andy eats at our deep-dish anxiety

Put the words “integrated” and “solutions” together and the average eyeball not only glazes, but shellacks and polyurethanes itself.
As an icon, he’s no Chihuahua, with those expressive eyes and throbbing nostrils. Nor is he a primitive sock puppet yearning for the spotlight. What we have here is a Muppet-headed creature from the dark side.
Don’t let the cute-and-furry aspect fool you. Bad Andy, as he’s known, is about as loveable as a computer virus. A not-so-charming creative device, the Sesame Street-style demon seed wants to sell us Domino’s pizza.
Why create a character for extreme loathe-ability? Especially in the context of something as innocuous and pleasurable as pizza. What’s happened to advertising?
Lately, it seems a certain desperation to infuse a brand with a big, bold personality-to distinguish it from the 67 million competitors out there-has resulted in some strange campaigns, especially in the fast-food category. In the what-were-they- thinking department, nothing tops the recent Long John Silver’s advertising from Fallon. Seemingly inspired by David Lynch, it featured midgets in bodysuits, each sporting a sign for the food he represented, like “shrimp basket” or “chicken plank.”
The little persons in Spandex were supposed to embody “little cravings.” In one ad, shrimp basket attaches himself doggie style to a man’s limb as he dances in a bar. I say, “Down, shrimp basket, down!”
I know that showing beauty shots of food and happy people chewing is boring, but the thought of snacking on a pants-grabbing midget impersonating a fish stick isn’t mouthwatering, either.
But back to our asocial monkey boy. I’ll grant that Bad Andy is an off-putting and irritating hook, but this Domino’s campaign is grounded in a dead-on strategy. A call for pizza delivery can be a scary thing: The fear is that the kid at the door will be a Satan worshiper or a guy who builds bombs in his garage.
But if your worry isn’t about the delivery person, it’s probably about what’s going on behind Domino’s closed doors, where pizzas are churned out factory style-and yours might include a chunk of cement-or worse.
By contrast, a character like Bad Andy is so weird and unexpected, he dispels these unspoken fears. The agency has created a bogeyman who’s out in the open, so you get a peek at the real stuff inside.
Indeed, who knew that Domino’s crust is hand-rolled, or that the pizza is delivered in proprietary “heatwave” bags? Because Andy lives to annoy Domino’s workers, we get to see all these behind-the-scenes features in a way that’s not corny or fake. In one spot, an earnest young Domino’s hire named Jeff is instructed in the art of hand-rolling the dough, only to be offered a rolling pin by Andy.
In the next cut, Jeff, still wearing his ugly Domino’s cap, is in the shower. He opens the curtain to see the rolling pin coming his way. (Surely this is the only pizza commercial in history to conjure up Tony Perkins.)
This fall, a new series of spots will debut. But for now, the funniest ad shows Andy blowing all the circuits at Domino’s to power a vibrating chair in his media room. As weird gizmos go, Andy’s pulsing chair trumps the idea of using all available sockets for plug-in delivery bags.
Not to get too deep here, but the Bad Andy/good pizza positioning talks to our conflicted selves. For those with deep-seated (or deep-dish) apprehensions, Andy is Prozac for pizza anxiety. Either that, or he’s just another ad monkey to get off our backs.

Domino’s Pizza
Agency: Deutsch/New York
Executive CD: Kathy Delaney
Group CD: Cheryl Van Ooyen
Copywriter: Andy Hall
Art Director: Chris Surrey
Agency Producer: Guy Williams
Director: Rob Pitts/Backyard Productions