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Domino's may be focusing on better tasting pizza in the states, but in the U.K the chain increased sales last year the way it always has: by making it easy to get pizza.

Acknowledging a weakness in their "core product" of pizza, Domino's has spent the last few months revamping its recipes and relaunching its pizza brand stateside. But it looks like a cold front in the U.K., some key brand partnerships and revamped digital efforst are to thank for the company's sales boost across the pond in 2009.

Domino's is America's largest pizza chain. But the company has a lot of negatives to contend with. For starters, Domino's is not known for particularly high quality pizza. The new ad campaign acknowledges criticisms of the food such as "the sauce tastes like ketchup" and "the crust to me is like cardboard."

As the company's former CEO David Brandon acknowledged this week:

"The weakness in our value chain with the customer was really in our core product."

The new ads, created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky, acknowledge these criticisms and announce a new pizza recipe that focuses on fresher ingredients and better tasting pizza.

AdAge calls the new campaign "refreshingly honest," but in the U.K. Domino's customers seem to care more about reality TV than the taste of their pizza. 

In England, Domino's credits its sponsorship of "Britain's Got Talent" with helping to raise sales 15.6% to £112.4 million in the last quarter of 2009. In addition to that brand partnership, the company has focused on making it easier to order online. 

Thanks to a cold spell, an increasing number of people are staying in (and ordering in) for dinner. Wth its new iPhone app, Domino's has been able to capitalize on that trend. According to Gizmodo, Domino's iPhone app was downloaded over 150,000 within the first six weeks of its launch this fall.

In its latest earnings call, the company acknowledged that these small digital shifts helped increase revenues in 2009. By focusing on online sales and short-term promotions the franchise company saw sales for the year increase by £407 million. Online sales for the same period up over 40% to £78.5 million, a £22.6 million increase from 2008.

Essentially, creating a better product will help Domino's in the long run. But promotion and delivery improvements also help a chain that people count on for ease of use. Even if the company has to take some gnarly criticism sometimes. Like this one from Stephen Colbert this week:

"Domino’s is just advertising that they weren’t fit to wipe your ass with...I have tasted the new pizza, and there are so many things I would wipe with it."

Image: Domino's

Meghan Keane

Published 8 January, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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