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‘Yes, fast food companies want to sell you as much as your little bodies can stand, and they’ll throw just about any idea toward that task.  Some of their ideas stick like honey buns to the stomachs of the young.  Others, boys and girls, become denizens of… the Island of Discontinued Fast Food Mascots!

BAD ANDY

The commercials said nothing that wasn’t true, Kenneth.

In the 1980’s, Dominoes’ advertising featured one of the most successful and recognizable characters in television history, the Noid.  T-shirts, video games, and cartoons popped up; the Noid appeared on talk shows, Michael Jackson videos, and on the Simpsons, a veritable celebrity.  But, in January 1989, a young man named Kenneth Lamar Noid walked into a local Domino’s Pizza, shoved a gun in someone’s face, and demanded a helicopter, a pizza, $100,000 and a book about the Illuminati.  It seems that K.L. Noid was irked about the advertising campaign, seemingly a personal slight against him.  What was it with all this, “Avoid the Noid” stuff anyway?  What had he ever done to them?  After several hours of “Dog Day Afternoon”- styled Pacinoisms, Noid surrendered to the police, was tried for aggravated assault, kidnapping, etc.  The court found him not guilty for reason of insanity, and nobody is really sure what happened to him after that.

As for Domino’s Noid, this ugly incident was the beginning of the end.  When an ad campaign causes even one person to take up arms, it may be time to have another meeting with Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.  In 2000, after a few other unsuccessful campaigns, Domino’s and Jim Henson’s workshop joined forces to create Andy, an impish antihero, part Curious George and part Iggy Pop, to star in a run of commercials.  Things quickly got out of hand.

Proud of himself.

Andy messed up pizzas, destroyed machinery, and made promises for the company: a gremlin and a saboteur.   The laziest of all of Domino’s employees, Bad Andy would deliberately ignore his supervisor’s commands, and even give food away for free! He presumably cost the company thousands of dollars at the height of his career.  At my most neglectful, I have probably cost a company only a couple of hundred dollars; this guy was more like Carlos the Jackal than any sort of worker.  In one commercial, he dangerously overloads the electrical sockets powering the Domino’s trademarked Heat Wave  bags to run his massage chair.  A second shows Andy loading pizza boxes with xerox copies of a pizza instead of real pizzas.  In another, he bullies an employee into using a rolling pin to stretch the pizza after their superior had explicitly told them to do this by hand.  In a third, he drops a banner marked “Free” in front of a billboard for Cinnamon sticks, implying to passersby that Dominoes is offering this particular items for free.  Compelled by old-time American honesty, they comply, and the customers benefited at their expense.

Disgusted, the New York Magazine spoke up: “…Andy’s continued employment at Domino’s raises troubling questions: If he can prance around undetected long enough to unplug all the HeatWave Hot Bags, what’s keeping him from, say, licking the pepperoni or peeing in the tomato sauce? In other words, just how bad is Bad Andy? And does Domino’s liability insurance cover puppet sabotage?”

Like Andy, a saboteur

Clearly, Andy couldn’t last.  When the factories were fouled up by an industrial accident, the Cap’n Crunch brand bounced back with Oops All Berries!  There was a misfortune, but they made a buck off of it.  Andy added on that premise- a slipup ‘mong the ranks- but perverted it to something that wasn’t feasible as a business model.  Andy will give away things for free, but he’ll still considers giving me a xerox copy of a pizza an apt substitute for a real pizza.   Andy is a bad employee, and do I want to go to a place run by bad employees?

Tim McIntyre, vice president of Domino’s corporate communications (whatever that is), gave Andy the boot, saying, “Bad Andy was annoying. He was obnoxious. ‘Bad Andy got some of the highest dislikability ratings of any spokescharacter in the history of advertising…Besides, the notion of a squirrel-like animal being holed up in the back of a pizza joint was unappetizing to say the least.”

A forced retirement on the Island of Discon’ts

I was fourteen back in 2000, and my brother and good friend were both called Andy.   I would, on occasion, obnoxiously tease them: “Bad Andy, Good Pizza!  Bad Andy, Good Pizza!”  They didn’t like it.  Luckily both of them were far saner than Kenneth Lamar Noid, and no firearms were drawn.  But, maybe Domino’s should look at that trend: Can an advertising campaign that uses words like “Bad” and “Avoid” really be a good one?

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