Papal lessons for an Aussie pizza CEO

Pope Francis I took the podium this morning at the Vatican with humility and grace – asking the world to bless him first, choosing not to wear full Papal regalia and making a gentle speech to introduce himself to the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide.

An interesting start to what is an overwhelming responsibility and personal brand promise. His first actions immediately set expectations and the promise of things to come with his personal brand. A display of humility, gentleness, and grace, which came across to viewers as just that.

After an incredible cycle of hype and expectation generated on the 28TH February when Pope Benedict spectacularly resigned, the brand new Pope is here for the public to judge. Within seconds of the new Pope entering the balcony some few hours ago, the world began forming judgement and the Twitter sphere exploded with response. Our opinions on Pope Francis I are developing by the second. So far so good. They hype has met expectations – even if with some surprise.

Not so for Dominos pizza this week. After some local extraordinary hype and expectation setting, the ‘game changer’ that Dominos promised us was launched to an overwhelming negative reaction on social media that labelled the campaign as a ‘’non event’’.

The marketing campaign has been such a disaster that the CEO Don Meij has taken to answering questions directly on Facebook for an hour each day. The new game changing products that entailed every Dominos New Zealand outlet shutting for an hours training on Saturday 9th March (yep, can you believe it – must be HUGE) turned into square pizzas and a selection of new pizza toppings called the “Chefs Best Range” choice. What made the campaign worse, is that competitors have done this all before.

The week long social media hype that set expectations of the ‘’most major revamp in two decades’’ complete with hashtags such as #gamechanger emerged to be only the introduction of a few new premium toppings and a square shape.

Over to consumers to judge and the punters just didn’t like it. The message of this failure to brand owners – don’t over promise and then not deliver after very big hype and promise of uber change. Hyperbole does not work.

More lessons for brand champions – don’t promise game-changers if they don’t change the game. Best run with ‘’Proof before the promise’’. Over promising is the key to disaster as it has always been, only now the reaction is public.

This week the publicity worsened with claims that negative comments were deleted from social media sites – a fact denied by Dominos.

The reality is that social media gives us the opportunity to give immediate feedback – direct to brand. And in the process sway public sentiment fast. No longer do we believe what we are told unless it looks authentic. Looking at Pope Francis I, I believe his simple and humble brand promise of love rather than over delivery is a far greater game change than square pizza!

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