More Marketing Thoughts

Two companies come to mind. Domino’s and Tostitos.

Those of you who know me on Facebook know that Jordana and I just had a great Domino’s experiment. Now, I live in New York City, and although it could be argued that somewhere else has better pizza (I’m looking at you, Pequod’s in Chicago…) the truth is that New York is the *beginning* of the argument for great pizza. It’s the Meryl Streep of Pizza. You can say it isn’t the best in the world, but that’s a good place to start when trying to decide.

So why did we order Domino’s?

That’s why.

They told us a story, a really perfect story, with a beginning, a middle and an end.

In the beginning, they were a store that delivered pizza in an awesome little car and the three dots on the domino were for their three stores, and they blew up and everyone thought they were awesome, and they started trying to make everyone happy and… I’m not sure. There’s a family, with a volkswagon, and a love of food.

The middle of the story is that everyone hates their pizza. And it makes them very, very sad.

The end of the story is that they re-made the whole process. It’s a brand new pizza, from the ground up. If we can just give them another shot, they’ll make us a better pizza. Because they love it, and they’re still driving that awesome little car.

Now, what’s the real story? I don’t care, it doesn’t matter. I mean – story inside this story is that they never really knew what they wanted to do, they spent a long time focused on the bottom line and selling their brand and in our culture now that’s biting them in the ass, so they hired a bunch of focus groups in order to find out how better to adjust their bottom line, and those people basically said, “convince me that you care about pizza…” but that’s not the story they told. They told the story of reinventing themselves and my wife BOUGHT IT.

We ordered the pizza. It was terrible. But, again, that doesn’t matter with what I’m thinking about.

The other is Tostitos. It is said that in New York, you have your deli and your Chinese place, and if you move six blocks, those might change. My local deli happens to be all organic, where you can get Pita Chips and frozen Edamame, but they don’t carry Doritos. Fine with me, I never buy that stuff anyway.

Except, the other day, I bought Tostitos at the grocery store. Why?

That’s why.

This is what we’re missing.

In the off-off Broadway world, we’re walking around saying “Broadway is culturally bankrupt (unless you want to hire me…)” and “We’re making *art*, and those guys are just making *crap*” and “Sure, you have to go out of your way, maybe you’ve never been there, maybe the seats aren’t comfortable, but it’s GOOD FOR YOU!”

Meanwhile, these giant multi-nationals are walking around *pretending they’re us*!!! Suddenly, friggin’ DOMINO’S is making pizza because they LOVE FOOD? Domino’s is responding to our individual cultural needs? They’re making their chefs and C.E.O.s available online to talk to about pizza, they’re reading comment cards and changing what they make in order to respond better to their market?

Yet, off-off Broadway continues to claim an artistic superiority over entertainment sources that cost 8 times to attend. Like we have no interest in finding out *why* someone would rather spend 120 dollars to see Shrek, how they manage to sucker 600 or 700 people a night, and we might sell 500 seats in a month. Believe me, it isn’t the comfortable seats.

Tostitos… you know they’re owned by Frito-lay, who is, in turn, owned by Pepsi-Co, right? And when you’re in the store, that brown paper bag of organic corn chips is bullshit compared with the simple goodness of… Tostitos?

Yet, we’re failing to *feature* the fact that our companies are just a handful of people. In our world, we’ve got a playwright and a director who are making the play. I mean, if you’ve got enough producers that one of them is giving notes and sitting in rehearsal, then you’ve probably got too many people…

I don’t know, I don’t have any answers, but I don’t think we’re terribly attractive when we tout our artistic aspirations and successes as some kind of marketing tool. Let other people talk about our integrity and singularity of vision – if indeed we do have it. Our job should be to distill the greatness of our little corner of the world, and let people know about it.

The big guys are pulling an “Aw Shucks” on us, and we’re still putting on berets and staring down our noses at success. We probably ought to change that.