What absolute rubbish! The consumer is NOT in control

This is not the blog I was going to write.

I had a whole different one started about setting expectations. But then while reading an article about the recent promise fail by Domino’s, I saw this:

“Phil McDonald, the Brisbane managing director of advertising agency George Patterson Y&R, said the fallout was another example of the consumer being in control.

“Marketers own the brand but they aren’t always in control,” Mr McDonald said.

“When you’re in control, you can run the traditional teaser campaign and things that interest you are going to be more relevant, but when the consumer’s in control, that’s not the case.”

I’ll get back to the whole Domino’s fail in a minute but WHAT ABSOLUTE RUBBISH! (caps intentional because, yes, I am yelling).

First. Marketing doesn’t and shouldn’t “own the brand” unless you want a recipe for disaster. Brand is the result of the promises you keep and the things you do – all of them. Marketing is in charge of only a very small percentage of that and the idea that that small percentage is where the “brand” lives is one of the biggest and most destructive lies in business. A lie that is largely perpetuated by those with the most to gain from it.

Second. The consumer is not in control unless you as an organisation decide to abdicate all those things you do to them.

So now back to what Domino’s did. Effectively they hyped up a promise into something they could never keep.

By saying ”Get ready for our biggest announcement in 20 years #gamechanger,” Domino’s set themselves up to fail. No consumers made them fail to change the game, they did that all by themselves.

No consumer was responsible for the decision that led to the campaign.

No consumer looked at their current toppings and pizza size and decided that adding a few and changing from round to square was worth that level of hyperbole.

No consumer made the CEO jump on board to continue the hype.

No consumer suggested that they confuse genuine innovation in their business with a marketing campaign with the shelf life of pepperoni and cheese.

Social media doesn’t put the consumer in control of your organisation or your marketing any more than a football fan’s attendance to a game puts them in control of the outcome on the field. They are still spectators reacting to the actions and decisions of the players.

When organisations forget they are in control, when they play to the crowd rather than keeping their eye on the ball and game at hand, it is inevitable they will make mistakes, make bad decisions and break promises.

Domino’s earned the wrath of customers and commentators alike for no other reason than they didn’t think about the promise they were making and, as a result, made one they couldn’t keep.

The social media reaction was just the spectators yelling from the stands.

See you next week.

Michel is an independent brand advocate dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at michelhogan.com. You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan.



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