Mad about Pizza

'Squishy underwear, most unpleasant!'...
January 1, 1999

‘Squishy underwear, most unpleasant!’

So declares Dr. Cravin, waist deep in mud, in one of the kid-targeted spots created by Campbell Mithun Esty (CME) for Domino’s Pizza. Introduced last May, the three-commercial campaign features a diminutive action figure-clumsy mad scientist Dr. Cravin-whose sole mission is to steal Domino’s Pizza from Domino’s delivery staff, despite recurring blunders and perpetual defeat.

The kids emphasis evolved from Domino’s family focus-a way to ‘close the loop’ by communicating directly with kids-motivating the buyer and the influencer with two distinct campaigns.

Our goal was to create ‘buzz’ with advertising that would get kids talking, update their impressions of Domino’s and motivate them to ask for us by name. With less than US$5 million in media, we pursued creative that was intrusive and stimulating.

The kids-pizza connection

Campaign development began with total immersion in the kids world. The team digested massive amounts of research on kids psychology and trends, and kids marketing case studies. Through CME KidCom, the agency’s kids marketing unit, we also conducted multiple rounds of proprietary research.

What did we learn? Not surprisingly, pizza is kids’ favorite food, and they wield tremendous clout over the purchase decision. But unlike their brand-conscious teen counterparts, more than half of the younger kid segment has no clear pizza delivery brand preference. This helped us identify the more receptive younger target from the total kids segment.

Our dialogue with kids also exposed their almost irresistible desire for pizza, and one clear brand association for Domino’s specifically-delivery.

Moving the ‘buzz’ meter

Creative development was driven by this overriding truth: kids want to be entertained first, and sold second. We studied movies, TV shows and characters that appeal to kids and found the most popular include these elements:

* Strong storylines with unexpected twists,

* Unusual and rebellious characters,

* Physical (versus oral) comedy, and

* Low-tech production values that seem cool in a high-tech world.

To test our creative concepts with kids, the Domino’s team produced a video using a borrowed camcorder, an action figure, duct tape and a `75 Buick. The result was a campy execution so low-tech, it looked like a home video shot from a kid’s perspective.

‘Buzz’ potential was examined in focus groups, using ‘friendship pairs.’ With this technique, a moderator watches a reel of kids advertising with one child. Later, the child’s friend is brought in, and the first child explains what she/he saw while the moderator is seemingly out of earshot. This replay provides terrific insight into how kids really see advertising, and how they share what they’ve seen with their friends.

We learned kids loved Dr. Cravin and the physical humor that’s such a part of his story. They also concluded Domino’s pizza must be desirable and delicious, the delivery person is unstoppable (so they’ll definitely get their pizza) and Domino’s is ultimately ‘cool.’

Reality check

Despite all our homework, the ultimate test for Dr. Cravin is in-market. And kids seem to thoroughly embrace this campaign.

Our first in-market tracking study reveals Dr. Cravin is extremely likeable. Better yet, the campaign elevates Domino’s brand to cool and fun, and directly influences kids’ planned purchase behavior.

Not surprisingly, with results like this, it’s full speed ahead! You’ll see more of Dr. Cravin’s antics in 1999.

Lance Crane is VP/account supervisor at Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Campbell Mithun Esty.

Dr. Cravin


60 seconds

Announcer: ‘We join the evil Dr. Cravin in his secret underground lab as he intercepts another Domino’s Pizza call.’

Dr. Cravin: ‘Excellent. The Kluskowski residence. I know the perfect shortcut. To the Crustmobile.’ (evil laugh)

‘Just call me the Deep-Dish Delinquent.

‘Oh, Domino’s. So delicious. The pizza will be mine.’ (evil laugh)

‘My delicious destiny awaits.’

‘Ah! Just in time. Hand over the pie, you punctual pwahhhhhhhh!’

‘Ugh. I’ll get you next time.’

‘Uh-oh. . . . Gaa! Dog breath.’

Announcer: ‘A canine conclusion for Dr. Cravin. . . .At least for now.’

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