CEO Tosses Subway Cease-and-Desist Letter in Pizza Oven in Ad on ‘American Idol’

CHICAGO ( — The desire to burn harshly worded letters is nothing new, but Domino’s decided to do it on national TV on Wednesday in prime time during Fox’s “American Idol.”

The pizza chain, which is fighting to gain a foothold in the sandwich business, launched a taste-test campaign in December claiming that consumers preferred its subs over Subway’s by a two-to-one margin.

“We felt like the best way to tell people that we have this fantastic sandwich was to compare us to the folks known for making subs,” said Domino’s Chief Marketing Officer Russell Weiner. Domino’s conducted the taste test before the launch. The results were so staggering that “we had to read them three times,” he said.

In contrast to Subway — well-known for its variety of ingredients and ability to make sandwiches before customers’ eyes — Domino’s launched with four sandwiches, all of them oven-baked and available for delivery in 30 minutes or less. A critical point: The pizza giant is matching Subway on its $5 price.

Concern from franchisees
Subway responded to the Domino’s campaign quickly, with a cease-and-desist letter from the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust, the franchisee organization that controls the brand’s ad spending. Franchisees cited concern about Domino’s methodology and the ability to make fair comparisons between the products.

But Domino’s made it clear it wasn’t going to quit running the taste-test ads. In its response to Subway’s letter, CEO David Brandon declares, “Everything’s better when it’s oven-baked,” and tosses the letter into a pizza oven. “Let’s roll the commercial,” he says.

Read the whole story by Emily Byrson York at Ad Age