“Any Idiot with a Webcam..”

Time is of the Essence, Domino's..

Time is of the Essence, Domino's..

That’s who can potentially harm your brand. Or so says Domino’s Spokesperson Tim McIntyre, who said the following in Ad Age after yesterday’s YouTube PR disaster: “Any idiot with a webcam and an Internet connection can attempt to undo all that’s right about the brand. In the course of one three-minute video, two idiots can attempt to unravel all of that.” In case you don’t know what now infamous three-minute video Mr. McIntyre is referring to, feel free to watch two Domino’s (now former) employees do some rather appalling things to slices of cheese and salami here. Or you can just take my word for it.

The video, which had more than 60,000 views by last night, clearly ruffled some feathers, but apparently not enough for the brand to respond. McIntyre said that responding to the clip would be like “putting out a candle with a fire hose.” There is definitely an argument to be made that responding to a reputation-damaging video like this will only alert more consumers about it, but I respectfully don’t agree with that argument. If he thinks all will be forgotten by tomorrow, he’s got another thing (social media madness) coming.

There are bound to be countless other blogs postings about the video this week, many more negative tweets, buzz on Digg, “Did you see this?” Facebook wall posts and imitation videos are likely to surface on YouTube. Add that all up and it exceeds the number of additional people who would find out about the video if Domino’s responded. And wouldn’t Domino’s rather have all these people find out about it from them in an apologetic and sincere matter instead of a likely very disapproving and disparaging matter from fellow social media users? McIntyre said that responding to the video would be like extinguishing a candle with a fire hose; I tend to think that not responding would be like letting a tiny cigarette butt torch an entire rainforest.

Shel Holtz poses a great question: “What is an adequate response to a social-media generated attack on your reputation?” Domino’s should’ve been in a war room from the second the video was released trying to answer that question. According to the Ad Age story, one of the ill-advised employees who was a part of the video sent an e-mail to McIntyre apologizing for the stunt and promised that the food was not delivered to customers. Why not upload another video in response to the defamatory one with the very same employees sitting down with Domino’s brass, or customers, apologizing for their actions?

What about a week-long social media campaign where Domino’s shows what they’re doing to make up for the mishap? How about giving away one free pizza for every single view that the YouTube video got? My favorite idea is hiring a food inspector to randomly inspect and rate 50 Domino’s restaurants around the country based on food service and employee cleanliness. The food inspector could then announce each of the restaurant’s scores in a video, tweet, blog entry, etc. Along those lines, Holtz suggested the idea of Domino’s installing webcams in every kitchen so customers could watch their food being prepared at their local restaurant.

If Domino’s doesn’t want to execute those ideas then at the very least they needed to have responded to the massive number of tweets from users saying that they’ll never eat Domino’s again that were posted all day yesterday. They could have found constituents and encouraged a massive re-tweet movement about how much Domino’s cares about customer feedback. Or they could have sought out the council of Ford’s Scott Monty or Comcast’s Frank Eliason, two experts about avoiding social media disasters and providing social media customer feedback, respectively.

Or maybe none of this really matters with consumers and we’re making a big deal out of nothing. While we wait to see if that’s true, let’s order some food, I’m getting hungry. Does anyone have the number for Papa John’s or Pizza Hut?