|April 16, 2009|
|Domino's Crisis is a Warning for Food Industry 2.0|
|By Greg Hazley|
|A PR crisis for Domino’s should be a warning shot for any food business in the Web 2.0 world.|
Domino’s Pizza is distancing itself from two employees at a North Carolina franchise who posted a lewd video from inside a Domino’s eatery that shows them tampering with food.
Tim McIntyre, VP of communications for Domino’s, sent a statement to O’Dwyer’s noting the company is “appalled by the actions of these individuals” and saying that they do not represent the chain’s 125K employees.
The video, which has been viewed more than 800K times online, shows a male and female in uniform in a kitchen at a Domino’s eatery. The male, who is preparing food and goes by the name Michael, appears to put an ingredient up his nose and place it on sandwich he is making. The female, Kristy, remarks: “We all have our secret ingredients.” It goes downhill from there.
The crisis has hit Domino's but it could have been any eatery as young (immature) and web-savvy employees seem to make up the bulk of fast-food restaurant staffers. There was a time when the probing lenses of "60 Minutes" or a hidden camera attached to an undercover PETA member could mean trouble. Now it could just as likely be the guy in the back flipping burgers on your payroll.
The first warning shot in this video-centric era was the Taco Bell rat video (more than 1 million views and counting) so companies in the space should have a decent crisis plan at the ready.
Domino's, to its credit, investigated the matter and acted with 24 hours, although it remains to be seen how much damage is done.
McIntyre said an investigation on April 13, the night the video was posted, revealed the identity of the two individuals, who then confessed to the incident and said they did not serve any of the tampered food to customers. He said the franchise owner terminated the two individuals on April 14 and the Conover, N.C., police are issuing warrants for their arrest.
McIntyre also forwarded an email he received from the female in the video sent at 1:38 a.m. on April 14 expressing remorse and saying that the food was never served. “We would never put something like that on you tube [sic] if it were real!!” read the email. “It was fake and I wish that everyone knew that!!!”
The crisis comes two weeks after Domino’s made good on a scuttled promotion gone awry by giving away 11K free pizzas. That promotion, which the company never advertised, spread virally (and quickly) after a customer discovered an online code, “bailout,” was good for a free pie.
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