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Crisis Communication - the Dominos Effect

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Crisis Communication

The Dominos Effect

        Dominos was founded in 1960. It is an American fast food company delivering pizza and other food items. It is the second largest fast food chain in America with an annual turnover of about USD 2 Billion. It has almost 11000 corporate stores in 70 countries around the world. Number of employees working in Dominos franchises are about 220,000. So we can clearly picture the huge structure of Dominos.

Situation:

        On 13 April 2009 Dominos position was tested when two of their employees at a franchise in Conover North Carolina posted videos of adulterated food on YouTube. Employees were Kristi Hammond and Michael Seltzer. The video was disgusting and contained material which was very unappetizing and a lot of food safety laws were violated. A lot of unsanitary things like putting cheese in nose and then putting it in sandwich were done to a sandwich supposed to be delivered. These employees posted the videos as a prank but Dominos was in a crisis situation as the videos went viral on YouTube and social media.

        Within an hour of posting the videos, viewed around 30,000 times and the views were increasing at a very fast pace. These videos were published on consumer blogging sites i.e. Consumerist.com and GoodAsYou.org. Dominos was also alerted about the situation by Good As You.  Up till 15 April video views have crossed a 1 Million mark. Top five out of twelve search results on Google were showing these videos. Dominos online mentions reached from average 600 to 8000 (Fig). It had become a huge social media frenzy. People had started asking questions about how Dominos has responded. Issue was also on twitter with people asking about Dominos response.

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Response:

        As soon as Dominos was informed about the situation Tim McIntyre, Dominos VP of communications set out to identify the franchise location. They found out about the perpetrators on 14th April. Both employees were fired and handed over to local police authorities for violating food safety regulations. McIntyre emailed Good as You and Consumerist about the proceedings and thanked them for informing. McIntyre and the communication team also took steps to post a response to the crisis on the Domino’s corporate website. The message was addressed to “our Valued Customers” and included the steps taken so far and an apology for the inappropriate behavior of the individuals involved.

        At first Dominos decided to remain quiet on social media and let the dust settle down, but the issue was already on Twitter and people were asking questions about what has Dominos done about the situation. Dominos reputation was declining very fast. So McIntyre realized that something has to be done on social media.

On 15th April an apology video of CEO Patrick Doyle was posted on YouTube with same tags as were used for the viral videos. The message was that we are sorry and we will earn your trust back. Twitter account @dpzinfo was created to handle the situation on twitter. This account was created to interact with people directly and answer their questions. At last all the efforts began to payoff and everything was back to normal by 17th April.

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