Startups Don’t Run On Halibut: Domino’s Backs Innovation With “Powered By Pizza” Campaign

Recognizing that pizza is the fuel of late-night breakthroughs, Domino’s and CP+B launch a new campaign to support the innovative hungry.

In America, the birth of great ideas or the completion of important work follows a very similar pattern: It’s late at night, the creative juices are flowing, and suddenly the realization hits that everyone’s hungry. What to do? Order pizza. Fast, filling, and containing the vegetable food group (depending on your topping selection), ’za has been the go-to food feeding the busy for modern time immemorial.


Picking up on this insight, Domino’s Pizza has launched the “Powered by Pizza” campaign that honors and rewards those noshing on a slice while in the throes of the innovation process. Created by agency CP+B, the campaign’s commercial canonizes pizza as the food that fuels innovation, and then literally rewards those building something new with pizza. As part of the effort, Domino’s is targeting 30 startup companies and surprising them with Pizzavestments–$500 gift certificates delivered in an attaché case. As well, it’s rewarding people who support upstart campaigns on crowdfunding site Indiegogo with free food, or Pizza Perks, for their role in giving innovators a leg up.

“The idea of the American dream is something that exists in all our franchises,” says Russell Weiner, chief marketing officer of Domino’s, noting that 90% of the company’s store owners started out in the lower ranks of the organization, working in stores or as delivery drivers. He also notes that innovation is, er, baked into the company. Domino’s was the first pizza chain to start delivering pizza 50 years ago, and when, in 2010, its product came under fire for being inferior, it underwent a very public and transparent transformation with its Pizza Turnaround. Since then, it has pioneered new ways to order pizza with its Pizza Button, how it’s delivered with Pizza Drones, and made it possible to follow your pizza from dough ball to door with Domino’s Live.

Matt Talbot, VP and creative director of CP+B says that, while Domino’s is always innovating, “when we took a step back, we realized there was a universal truth about pizza beyond our walls. People all across the country innovating and pursuing their own version of the American Dream often have pizza by their side, whether they’re brainstorming, launching a startup, coding, or studying for a test. They certainly aren’t doing it over hot dogs or halibut,” he says. “The hope is that after people see this campaign, they will think differently about the role of pizza, even though it’s been right in front of them all along. If they see a neighbor getting Domino’s delivered at 11 p.m. on a weeknight, they won’t think that he or she just came back from a night of drinking, but will instead be wondering what next big thing they might be creating in the garage.”

Weiner says that being associated with creation and perseverance has particular importance these days. “In today’s day and age, it’s a lot easier to give up and say I can’t. The job market’s not great, and the idea of achieving the American dream is not really the way it used to be (ed: something fast food workers might agree with). People are looking for examples of folks who embody the idea that you if work hard and tell the truth, and you’ll be successful,” says Weiner. “We want to help others fulfill their dream, but we can’t just say it’s great late-night thinking food without doing something about it ourselves.”

So what about the creation of this campaign, which surely involved its share of late nights–was it powered by pizza? Indeed, says Talbot. “About 25 pizzas or so were consumed.”

About the author

Rae Ann Fera is a writer with Co.Create whose specialty is covering the media, marketing, creative advertising, digital technology and design fields. She was formerly the editor of ad industry publication Boards and has written for Huffington Post and Marketing Magazine.