Domino's Bribes Journalists With Free Pizza?

We were yawning through Domino’s press release about its lame viral video campaign, when we nearly choked upon this gem:

NOTE TO EDITORS: We love to feed the media! Call the Domino’s Public Relations Department at +1-734-930-3741 to order a piping hot Domino’s Pizza for your newsroom or studio.

Is Dominos blah blah? Or blah blah blah? We don’t know, but we like pepperoni and with this whole citizen journalism thing, blah blah blah everyone gets a free pizza. — BEN POPKEN

Does Dominos PR need a lesson in ethics? [Tech for PR]

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  1. BillyShears says:

    Everytime I attempt to call what Domino’s serves “pizza,” a little part of me dies.

  2. geekchic says:

    Until they bring back the Noid, not even bribery can force me to choke down their garbage.

  3. RandomHookup says:

    My receptionist will be calling Domino’s right away to feed our ‘writing’ staff. Yeah, journalism!

  4. Dashiell says:

    In order for it to be considered a bribe, there has to be some sort of benefit or reward to the person being bribed and I don’t believe that a Domino’s pizza qualifies.

  5. SecureLocation says:

    Ethics, schmethics…send over a Double Cheese ‘n Black Olive!

  6. TedSez says:

    So if I’m reading this correctly, Domino’s dumped fake videos on video-sharing sites and created profiles for its “characters” on social-networking sites in order to create a viral buzz for this promotion. So it’s misappropriating the resources of what are supposed to be member-oriented sites, and wasting the time of their users, to put out what are essentially commercials without paying for their distribution.

    Maybe “Time”‘s Person of the Year should be “YOU (are actually an artificial corporate construct, and nothing has really changed).”

  7. snowferret says:

    Forgive me for being stupid but how is this an ethical problem? Sure it looks bad. Uhm.. hey media guys, ear our pizza? But its not like thier saying “We will give you free pizza if you give us coverage” Thier not even saying that thier offering free pizza wich could be considered swag (sp?).

  8. thenewpr says:

    Hey Snowferret,

    So, here’s the short version of the whole ethical debate.

    If someone buys you lunch, you feel like you owe them a lunch in return, right? It’s a pretty common feeling.

    What if you’re a reporter for The New York Times. You NEED to remain unbiased. You must not have any interests relating to the parties you write about, or your credibility is shot. If that free pizza from Dominos gets you to write about the company out of guilt — or at least mention them — then you’ve been bought. Oldest trick in the book, and such a tiny thing that it appears completely innocent.

    This is why, when reporters meet PR people for lunch, the reporter must always pay.

    Does that make sense? The argument is much more complicated than this, but a comments thread isn’t the place to discuss it :)

  9. The Fro-Hawk Goes says:

    But I think ferret’s point is that, at least in the snippet we got, there’s no mention of free. Maybe it’s just a PS saying we’ll do large orders for your newsroom.

    Someone should confirm if they’re actually free, and then send me slice. I don’t mind Domino’s. Thin crust preferred.

  10. sushisuzuki says:

    When I worked for the college newspaper, we used to have a deal with Domino’s and Papa John’s where they gave us X-number of free pizzas a week for running a certain size ad in the weekly paper.

    Since we were trading nourishment (if you could call it that) for service, we didn’t feel obligated to support them or write good things about them (which we never did), which put us in the ethical green zone.

    Having compared the two every week for a good portion of my college life, I can say that Domino’s is clearly superior, though I’m still sick and tired of pizza till this day.

  11. I’m currently on a college paper, and we’re doing what sushisuzuki said.

    But I also worked as an intern at a professional paper for a bit, and they took free food from a new company in town and they gave some coverage of all the people standing in line of the restaurant’s grand opening. Was it a contractual trade? Probably not. Was it unethical? Possibly.

  12. FLConsumer says:

    This type of stuff goes on all the time. I’ve worked in broadcasting since my teens and it’s very common for restaurants to send food our way. In return, if the food is good, we’ll give them a quick mention and make it worth their while. If the food’s not good (Domino’s pizza would fall into this latter category) we’d not mention them.

    I personally don’t find this ethically wrong, as we’re not going to give them anything extra-special per-say, just an impromptu advert.

    Now, if you REALLY want to have a field day with free food, go look over to Big Pharma and the doctors… I volunteer at one of the local hospitals. One day I was invited to one of the drug rep lunches… The next day, the same thing happened. I proceeded to seek out the free food for the next month. For one solid month, I didn’t pay for a single lunch. After the month, I figured that I could probably go for eternity and be able to scrounge up a free lunch each day… but my conscious got the better of me, knowing that it’s the patients who ultimately were footing the bills.

    Sidenote: The drug reps are salesholes. Not doctors, not chemistry majors, not even science majors. They don’t know a damn thing about what they’re pushing, er, selling. During a few of the lunches, I watched a couple of Drs give the ‘hole a total bullsh*t explanation of how they use a competitor’s drug, etc. (The case in point was for anesthesia drugs) The rep found this info interesting, as it was new, and tried pushing their product. The Drs left and next set of Drs entered the room. The rep pushed their products, of course, then after awhile inquired about what she had just heard. One of the Drs replied, “Where’d you get that crazy idea from? The patient would walk right off the table if that’s all you used.” I tried not to laugh, but the rep knew she’d just been had.

  13. SexCpotatoes says:

    Send me your fooderz! I have never had Domino’s and I am 25 years old.

  14. RandomHookup says:

    Just curious…what would ‘we’ at Consumerist like on our pizzas?

  15. Kornkob says:

    And people wonder why video games (and other products offered to reviewers for free) are almost unifromly rated at 6/10 or higher, no matter how crappy the game is.

    It’s because the publications want to continue to get free stuff and they know that marketing will ‘lose their number’ if they gave honest (and not merely ‘truthful’) reviews.

    The idea of reporters’ neutrality being compromised is not new and, frankly, I’d venture to guess that a vast majority of reporters and/or their editors have already been compromised well in advance of today. I’ve been in the ‘press room’ at a variety of events and seen the swag, free food and entertainment offered up.

  16. Ben Popken says:

    Pepperoni.

  17. Mr. Gunn says:

    So, did you get the free pizza?

  18. And Mushrooms. Maybe extra-cheese?