Brand Winners... And Losers: Domino's and Monster Cable Products, Inc.

Brand Winners…

   And Losers

The Marketing Doctor says:   

Winner: Domino’s Pizza

Loser: Monster Cable Products, Inc.

Folks, figuring that I have been spending a lot of my blogging time of late expounding on poli-marketing and the branding of the presidency, I decided to get back to some brass tacks business marketing for this week’s Winner/Loser.

The winner shows us that accidents can sometimes lead to happy discoveries, and the loser shows us that being overly concerned about legal technicalities can be bad news for our brands.

The Winner:

The winner this week is Domino’s Pizza. 

The pizza company seems to have made a big “mistake” that resulted in big publicity and 11,000 free pizzas for web-savvy consumers. 

Here’s the story

Basically, a few months ago Domino’s was considering an online coupon code-based promotion using the word “bailout.” The idea got shelved, but the code wasn’t turned off. 

A presumably hungry and clever web user discovered that entering the word “bailout” earned him or her a free, medium-sized pizza. In less than 24 hours, word of the freebie spread across the Internet, resulting in 11,000 free pizzas given away. Wow!

Domino’s suspended the promotion and announced that they would reimburse their franchisees for the cost of the pizzas…

So why should Domino’s be a winner?  For obvious reasons, actually. 

Even assuming that this was really a mistake and not guerrilla marketing, Domino’s accomplished two things. 

One, Domino’s got more publicity for its website ordering system than it ever would have if it had invested in a nationwide advertising campaign (which would have been far more expensive). I call this adpublitizing of the highest order.

In other words, many people who were not aware that they could order pizzas online now know this and will be encouraged to do so. In the weeks and months to come, I am convinced that the traffic to Domino’s website will likely increase by a big multiple as many people visit the website for the firs ttime and some (possibly many) try to puzzle out the new “mistake” coupon code.

Two, as one company executive noted, Domino’s learned the power of the word “free,” combined with the viral power of the Internet to spread news about products and offers. Remember, the leak of the “mistake” didn’t just generate buzz or eyes on the page, it generated 11,000 transactions (albeit ones that resulted in a profit loss —at least in the short term).

We can all learn from this episode. 

I’ve written a lot about the new marketing, which stretches across platforms and defies traditional advertising models. Well, we’re going to see this kind of thing more and more as standard marketing boundaries and operating etiquette get overturned by the kind of subversive, socially networked spread marketing that recognizes that the credibility of the promotion rests with the consumer, not the company (i.e., the promotion is actually driven by the consumer discovering the promotion —pull marketing, not push marketing).

Thank you, Domino’s.  

The Loser:

The loser this week is a monster that you have probably never heard of. It’s definitely not the popular movie series or the job-seeker’s website, 

I’m talking about Monster Cable Products, Inc. I’d post a logo, but, frankly, it’s not to easy to find one.

What isn’t too hard to find, though, are articles, especially this recent one from The Wall Street Journal, on how Monster Cable, a company based in California, seems to have been suing everyone who dares use the word monster (including the movie people and the job people) in the course of their business.

The company seems to be waging a campaign to ensure that its trademark (granted in 1980) remains protected. Even the Gila monster might be in danger of losing its name. 

So are they doing the right thing? Fuggedaboutit.

First, they are spending a lot of money on legal fees and often times coming up empty.

Second, they are building a lot of ill will toward their brand. This monster situation reminds me of a kid who would rather be right than anything else. No one ever likes that kid.

What’s especially funny is that the target’ of Monster Cable’s campaign get positive and sympathetic publicity at Monster’s expense. The campaign also makes Monster Cable seem unsure of itself, generally hostile and unsympathetic —all three perceptions are toxic for any brand.

The Wall Street Journal recounts how one small business owner who had been sued by Monster decided to fight back by driving a van around their headquarters with an unflattering message about the company. His real marketing strategy worked and Monster dropped its legal action against him.

The mention of real marketing gets me to my point and the reason this company is this week’s loser.

Earlier in this piece, I mentioned that I tried, but could not easily find, Monster’s brand logo (or, for that matter, their website). 

But if I wanted to find (the job-seeker’s website), all I have to do is type the word “monster” into Google and voilà. The site is right there, ready for me to visit and allow me to interact with this company online. Therein lies the lesson. 

Monster Cable Products, Inc. has been around since 1980, but you have probably never heard of them before now, when you’re hearing about them in a negative context. has been around for a lot less time, but I know that you have heard of them. 

One company is pursuing marketing through litigation. The other company is simply marketing. Using legal action is never a brilliant marketing coup, because it almost always leaves a negative impression, and it distracts you from positive brand-building work.

A trademark is really only as good as your marketing.

It’s not about enforcement; it’s about engagement —engagement with your customers and your Target Market. A trademark is a living thing. It’s about good will and responsiveness to your customer’s needs. It’s about delivering on the promise of your brand.

Business people are often ready to pony up large sums for lawyers and drain their resources pursuing actions that often hurt their bottom line, but they treat marketing as an unproven and dispensable profit-generating tool.

What a mistake. 

I aim to definitively show —not here, but soon and in a more in-depth format— that marketing dollars well-spent trump by multiples the profit-generating power of other supposedly core business expenditures like legal action.

For now, I can confidently say this: if I were Monster Cable Products Inc., I’d drop the lawyers and hire some real marketers.

And remember, it’s always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.


Sometimes marketing “accidents” can lead to terrific discoveries. If you make a mistake, don’t despair, discover.


What did you think of this article?

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  • 3/17/2010 2:37 AM Digital Antenna Installation wrote:
    Monster Cable definitely needs to re-think its strategy. Nobody has really heard of them, and yet they sue everyone? Monster is such a common word, I don't think any judge would give them compensation. They sued movies? Are they serious? At least Domino's was awesome. Even if it's a mistake, they probably gained more long-term clientele this way.
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  • 11/25/2010 1:38 AM asos code wrote:
    To Run a business planned strategy's needed, if it not goes well all will get messed up. Monster cable need to revise its business strategy.Otherwise they will be on verge of dissolution.
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  • 11/27/2010 3:31 AM Christmas Party In Surrey wrote:
    Thanks for providing such useful information. I really appreciate your professional approach. I would like to thank you for the efforts you made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.
    Reply to this

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