BrandIndex's weekly Brandweek Buzz Report: Domino's, Holiday Inn and Subway

New Domino's Recipe Gets Consumers Buzzing

Jan 15, 2010

Changing its core recipe and launching a supporting campaign has helped Domino’s stand out from the pizza chain pack with men 18-49, just in time for the NFL playoffs. According to market research firm YouGov's BrandIndex report, Domino's buzz score has skyrocketed, putting it squarely ahead of its competitors.

The Brandweek Buzz Report by YouGov is a weekly consumer perception report that analyzes the most talked about brands based on buzz: If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, was it positive or negative?; and index: The average of six sub-scores that creates an overall brand health indicator—quality, value, satisfaction, recommend, reputation and impression.

YouGov interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative U.S. population sample. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of 1.5 million individuals. A score can range from 100 to -100 and is compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.

This week, the report spotlights:

• Domino's
• Subway
• Holiday Inn

Domino's 'Honest' Approach Works
In an unconventional self-examining marketing campaign that debuted in mid-December, Domino's announced it was improving its pizza formula after soliciting feedback, posted a stark four-minute documentary about it on YouTube (sample consumer comments: the crust “tastes like cardboard” and the sauce “tastes like ketchup”). The pizza chain also launched a website ( to promote its efforts. An unusual amount of honesty has gone a long way for Domino’s. On Dec. 18, its buzz score was 2.3, and is now 35.3.

Subway Off to a Good Start With Phelps
Subway has apparently forgiven Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps for his 2008 photo holding a bong. The brand revived the pitchman for the “$5 footlong” campaign. Underwater in a swimming pool, Phelps does the “five fingers/one foot-apart-with-hands” signal, then surfaces to ask: “Hey guys, can I get one of those?” Always atop BrandIndex’s value charts for quick-serve restaurant chains, Subway’s gamble on Phelps’ second act appears to be off to a reasonably good start: Since the campaign debuted after New Year’s Day, Subway’s buzz score rose from 40.3 to 44.4.

Holiday Inn Gets Thumbs Up
During the travel industry’s worst economic downturn, InterContinental Hotels Group decided it was the right time to invest $1 billion revamping its storied, but somewhat dated, Holiday Inn chain. Out went the polyester and in came the triple sheet bedding. Everything was upgraded or changed, from the bathrooms and TV sets, to the lobbies and even the logo. Underperforming units were closed. Consumers noticed, as Holiday Inn was only one of two top 10 hotel chains to record an upswing in index score for 2009 (the other was Hampton Inn).