In 1986, advertising agency Group 243 was tasked with creating a mascot for Domino’s Pizza. Their creation–the Noid–was one of the most inexplicably popular mascots in corporate history. But in a case of branding gone bad, the Noid’s rise plummeted when he inspired a real-life crime by a schizophrenic namesake.
Even compared to the worst corporate mascots, the Noid was a unique grotesquerie. A gibbering, pot-bellied, buck-toothed pervert squeezed into a skintight rabbit costume, the Noid was a Hamburglar-like character wholly devoted to delaying pizza deliveries. Only Domino’s Pizza, the ad campaign claimed, delivered pizzas that were “Noid-proof.” Avoid the Noid by ordering from Domino’s and get your pizza in 30 minutes or less.
The Noid was a strange character to capture the cultural zeitgeist, but in the 1980s, he was popular enough to earn not just one, but two separate video games, as well as dominate a line of toys and merchandise. The Noid’s bizarre popularity was probably helped by the fact that Domino’s Pizza chose Will Vinton Studios–creators of the California Raisins–to bring the Noid to life through Claymation.
But as an informative post by Zachary Crockett over at Priceonomics explains, what eventually killed off the Noid had nothing to do with the public coming to its senses, but rather what may have been “the worst mascot PR in history” at the height of his popularity.
On January 30, 1989, a 22-year-old man named Kenneth Lamar Noid walked into a Domino’s Pizza in Atlanta, Georgia, with a .357 magnum revolver and took two employees hostages. After a five-hour standoff during which Noid demanded $100,000 in ransom money, the employees in question escaped. But the damage to the Noid brand was done: not only was the headline too good to ignore (“Domino’s Hostages Couldn’t Avoid the Noid this Time”) but it turned out that Kenneth Lamar Noid actually believed he was the Noid–or, at least, the Noid’s original inspiration.
A paranoid schizophrenic, Noid believed that Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan had created the “Avoid the Noid” campaign specifically to persecute him. Sadly, the incident sounded the death knell for both Noids. Unable to shake his belief that Domino’s had created the Noid campaign to ridicule him, Noid spent three months in a mental institution, and eventually committed suicide in 1995. As for the Claymation demon that drove him to his death, save a brief appearance in a Facebook game in 2011 to celebrate his 25th birthday, the Noid hasn’t been seen since.
Read the entire post on Priceonomics here.