Obama Should Follow Domino’s Pizza’s Lead and Start Over

Going back to the drawing board wouldn’t hurt the president.

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By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Here's an idea for the president's State of the Union address next Wednesday: Do what Domino's Pizza is doing.

Take a look at Domino's Pizza's new ad campaign and Web video. In the video, focus groups tell corporate executives that the crust tastes like cardboard, the sauce like ketchup, and even, "It's the worst excuse for pizza I've ever had." The company hears the complaints and then sets out to fix the problem: "You can't just add a little salt or a little something to the recipe. We basically had to start over with a new recipe," says the marketing director.

In this hilarious segment, Steven Colbert quotes CEO David Brandon: "The weakness in our value chain with the customer was really in our core product." Colbert speculates that the flavor of the core product--pizza--was being overshadowed by the superior flavor of their fringe product--the little white plastic table thing in the box.

The fact that Domino's linked to the Colbert segment ("We love it") from its corporate website says the company's got a sense of humor about all of this.

Obama has a problem with his "core product" these days, too--namely, a leftist agenda of big government and big spending that is not going over well with voters. On healthcare, he can't just add a little salt, so to speak; he needs to start over with a new recipe. Maybe he should do what Bill Clinton did after the 1994 midterms and declare that "the era of big government is over," scrap the current healthcare bills in favor of more moderate reforms, drop cap-and-trade, and work toward deficit reduction by imposing federal spending caps.

What makes the Domino's ad campaign so effective is that it's not just saying "new and improved," which is where I think Obama might be headed. "New and improved" doesn't get people's attention. Instead, Domino's says it has a fundamental problem, it's listening to its biggest critics, and it's starting over. That's getting people's attention. As I write this, it's gotten over 400,000 hits on the YouTube video and customers are responding on Twitter as well.

Earlier this week, when asked about Sen.-elect Scott Brown's suggestion that healthcare reform should go back to the drawing board, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "There is no back to the drawing board." But if Domino's can go back to the drawing board after 50 years in business, surely President Obama can do the same after only a year in office. He'd be wise to listen to what his critics are saying--maybe even use a little humor--and fix the core product.

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