Due to the unavoidable progress of the pop-cultural clock, there are some who will watch this new Domino’s app ad and see just that: an ad for the Domino’s app, promoting something called Pie Pass, which allows customers who order and pay online to skip the queue and grab their order as soon as it’s ready. For others, though, this is unadulterated TV blasphemy.
See, kids, the guy who wanders into the Domino’s is beloved sitcom character Norm, a staple of the hit show Cheers, which ran from 1982 to 1993. The NBC comedy took place in a run-of-the-mill bar in Boston that pretty quickly turned its IRL namesake into a must-see tourist attraction. Here, Domino’s has taken old footage of actor George Wendt and dropped it into one of its pizza joints. Except this pizza place has obviously replaced the iconic bar that told so many stories, introduced us to unforgettable characters, and taught at least one generation of kids that a bar was a perfectly good place to spend half your life (and money). Norm’s entrances were a key part of every episode.
On one hand, turning Cheers into a Domino’s is a clever ad device—along with its signature theme song, of course—to clue us all into the personalization of Pie Pass. Job done. But there’s also an unintentional darkness to it, a reminder that nowhere is forever, and practically every favorite bar, restaurant, coffee shop, whatever, will someday become something else—something far less personalized and interesting.
Union Square Coffee Shop is a Chase bank. Maple Leaf Gardens is a grocery store. CBGB is both a luxury clothing store AND an airport restaurant in Newark. In a time of rampant gentrification and the proliferation of urban sameness, chances are that favorite place will be a chain, whether that’s a pharmacy, a clothing store, a bank, or yes, even a pizza chain.