Saturday, January 23, 2010

NASCAR Joins Domino's Pizza: Admits Their Past Product Was Poor

by M Roberts

When I heard about all the changes NASCAR was making to better the sport for it’s fans and drivers, all I could think about was how this giant in the business world must have hit rock bottom, or at least the depths close to the bottom that NASCAR has never seen.

The announcements made by the NASCAR suits in Charlotte this past week were highlighted by NASCAR saying they would be “more relaxed” and encourage drivers to show more emotions. They also said changes would be made to increase the hole in the restrictor plates and go back to the spoiler instead of the rear wing.

Many companies in the current economic climate have had to regroup, change strategies and come up with new game plans to be able to realistically forecast growth, but seldom do they admit their faults to the public or financial analysts.

NASCAR’s new plan is to basically go back to the old plan, which is admitting their faults in past changes. It is commendable that they can admit their past failures in decision making, but it would have appeared more earnest if no so desperate.

The NASCAR State of the Union address had me thinking of another company who recently rolled out with an ad campaign that basically admitted their past product was garbage. Domino’s Pizza, once a thriving up and coming company, built a huge following becoming a mega-giant in the pizza delivery business with little national competition.

Once some of the others came along with advertising campaigns just as big, like “Papa John’s“, and revenues were way down making their year over year charts look like the “diver down” flag, they shared all their recipe changes in a last ditch effort to get their slice of the business pie. In doing so, they shared comments from customers about how bad the pizza used to be, “It tasted like cardboard” and “the sauce is like ketchup”.

So now this big business pizza joint, who I thought was just fine but still never ordered much from, is admitting to me how bad the pizza used to be. They’re taking a 50-50 shot that they’ll maybe get some old clientele back, but they’re also alienating those who liked the old stuff. It’s business suicide, but it was a measure they were willing to take before the nose dive went off the charts.

In NASCAR’s case, we don’t have a Papa John’s circuit to run to for alternative stock car racing. It’s the only game in town, but why couldn’t they have come clean with their faults, which everyone had cried aloud about, when everything was rolling well with NASCAR’s bank account and future?

Last season saw television ratings increase slightly in only seven of the 40 NASCAR Sprint Cup events compared to 2008. The economy was bad, but most folks had TV sets before things went sour. The writing was on the wall and they needed some momentum for the next big TV contract in 2014, plain and simple.

The double-file restarts -- in the middle of the down 2009 season -- was a sign that NASCAR would be willing to do just about anything to garner more recognition and impress the sponsors and networks

So NASCAR announces it has a rodeo again, but the best broncos have already been broken. Is it possible to think you can break a wild horse and then tell it to buck again like it used to?

How do you tell the likes of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch to go ahead and be that colorful personality with a style that the fans love and hate equally at the same time when it was NASCAR who made them stay after school writing “I will not misbehave again or else” a thousand times on the chalk board.

In a way, it’s refreshing to see a sport react so swiftly and make the subtle changes. On the other hand, NASCAR is also showing that it’s business is being run like a Korean liquor store where the prices fluctuate on a daily basis with never an ounce of consistency.

Could you imagine Major League Baseball, the NFL, or NBA drastically changing it’s rules year after year, or even worse in the middle of a season? No, because part of what makes those sports so good is that the core rules basically stay the same. It’s not hard to follow for someone that took a few years off, whether in jail, in a cave, or even worse, got married.

Can you picture the NASCAR fan that took a 10-year hiatus from the sport and he’s being told about all the “new” things going on in stock car racing. The first response might be, “why the hell did they make a change to a rule that was already there.”

And I don’t even want to attempt explaining all the add-on changes throughout the Chase for the Championship format, along with why Labor Day weekend doesn‘t have a race at Darlington anymore.

In the long run, the changes will be good for NASCAR and I’m looking forward to this season more than ever. But I have to believe that some of things that have gone on with this family operated business over the last decade could have been handled much better by real business minds who think things out with long term effect rather than knee-jerk.

Again, it’s the only game in town.


ATHENS said...

I was going to stop chatting and start working on my budget so I went to Clark Howard's site only to find more reason to come back and blog some more! Clark had this story:

Jan 21, 2010 -- Domino's Pizza ad campaign centers on bad tasting food
Most of corporate America has trouble saying, "I'm sorry." But Domino's Pizza is bucking that trend with a new ad campaign centered on their revamped recipes. Central to the ads are the idea that their previous recipes stunk!

Clark loves the credibility involved in saying, "We messed up." In fact, he believes part of the reason why Americans hate the banks so much is because they won't take responsibility for their role in undermining our nation's financial solvency.

You also see the same avoidance of responsibility in the medical field, when many doctors and insurers won't ever admit to an error.

Accountability means that an individual should step up and take responsibility. If you watch the really good football players, they'll often bang their chests or point to themselves if they drop a pass or fumble the ball.

Yet much of corporate America suffers from what's been called "diffusion of responsibility," which means that as an organization gets larger it loses the ability to have the typical human response of saying, "I'm sorry."

We'll see over time if Domino's new approach works. Clark believes if the new pizza really tastes better, then it will work.

Anonymous said...

Clark is a super smart guy and has valid points.

Personally, I don't want a food place to tell me the food I ate wasn't good, especially when I thought it was fine.

As for Corporate America, and the people that buy what some offer, whether it be products or stock, I lose faith in a company when they admit to failure. Handle the situation internally, can a few people, and make changes.

It's funny that Clark would discuss the matter though.

Gene Haddock said...

Excellent analysis, Fireball!

I've preached for years that NASCAR wants to be taken seriously as a major sport, but the nepotism, nonprofessionalism, favoritism, etc. that goes on there will never allow that to happen.

Fireballr7 said...

well said Gene, thanks for the read. Good Luck in Fantasy NASCAR too. Thanks for joining. Looks like there are a few strong players we know in the league too.

Dean Collins said...

yeh it's kind of weird how they've changed the rules on what you can and cant do but i think the bump rule is for the better.

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