Pizza & Emoji – A More Perfect Union


A picture is worth a thousand words, but it only takes one emoji to order a pizza. All of this is made possible due to Domino’s Pizza’s new social media campaign that allows users to either tweet or text a pizza emoji, which in turn will order them a pizza. This was created in an effort to reach younger audiences that have primarily adopted a new mode of communication that uses various images to express words and emotions. These new-age hieroglyphics are called emojis, and they are found in almost every facet of modern day communication. Due to their prevalence, it is no surprise that companies are starting to create their own custom emojis.


Before Domino’s, the pizza emoji had little purpose, so the fact that one company can lay claim to a generic pizza icon gives them quite an edge over the competition as customers will now associate the pizza emoji with Domino’s. Another main component of this bold new marketing strategy is that it expedites the pizza ordering process. It is much faster to text an emoji, than to go through the arduous process of finding the phone number of the pizzeria, making the call, and placing the order over the phone. With Domino’s, the customer will need to create an account online with which they can customize their pizza selections and link payment information. Once the account has been established, a hot delicious pizza is one finger-tap away. Furthermore, what makes this campaign even more successful is that whenever people tweet the emoji, they are basically advertising the fact that they will be eating Domino’s Pizza to all of their friends. There is no denying that the Domino’s emoji campaign is highly effective, although it does come with some downsides, predominantly with a television advertisement that was the recipient of mostly negative responses. Also, the ordering system has seen a moderate failure rate as Domino’s attempts to work out all of the kinks.


The Power of Pizza

Brothers Tom and James Monaghan founded Domino’s in 1960[1]. Initially it was only a single location, which was called DomiNiks, a carryover from the previous owner. The business soon expanded to three additional locations, and because the original owner refused to let the other locations keep the DomiNiks name, it was changed to Domino’s Pizza, a suggestion from one of the employees. Currently there are Domino’s in 5,700 cities: 2,800 domestically, and 2,900 internationally. This makes them the #2 pizza chain in the Unites States, and the #1 worldwide. Domino’s claim to fame was that it promised a 30-minute or less pizza delivery. Originally if the pizza didn’t arrive within 30 minutes, the customer would get the pizza for free. However, this caused reckless delivery drivers, so now instead of being a promise, it’s simply a slogan. When it came to the pizza itself, Domino’s was ranked rather poorly. That changed in 2010 when the current CEO, J. Patrick Doyle, was hired. Doyle ensured that the pizza would be rejuvenated, which resulted in a 14% gain in profits for that year. Recently Domino’s has been praised for its excellent use of social media, particular with Twitter, as there is active engagement with an impressive 939,000 followers[2]. The next big step for Domino’s would be the introduction of its innovative emoji ordering system.


The Rise of the Emoji

Emojis are small icons or pictographs that are used to express emotion in digital media. The word emoji comes from two Japanese words: “e” meaning picture, and “moji” which translates to character[3]. Evidently the first emojis were created in 1998 by Japanese coder Shigetaka Kurita, for NTT DoCoMo’s mobile Internet platform[4]. Originally emojis were very rudimentary, being only 12×12 pixels, and featuring very simplistic designs. For the most part, the emoji was mostly seen in Japan for the latter half of the 1990’s, and the early 2000’s. It wouldn’t be until the introduction of Apple’s iPhone that the emoji would break through internationally, and become a worldwide phenomenon. Today emojis are found on almost every operating system, and have become an integral part of the online social sphere. It is reported that six out of ten people use emojis frequently, using on average 30.1 emojis per day[5]. Emojis are so trendy right now that even Sony Pictures is in the process of developing a movie based on the little icons. Furthermore, despite not really being words, Oxford’s Dictionary named the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji Word of The Year for 2015. This came as no accident, since it was found to be the most frequently used emoji beating out the rest by 17%. Pair that with the fact that the use of the word emoji itself has nearly tripled in 2015, and that makes the Oxford decision all the more logical. There is no doubt that the emojis will continue to grow in popularity, especially now that they are being recognized as a useful marketing tool for corporations.



Pizza and Emojis Joining Forces

It was only a matter of time before companies would begin to recognize the immense power of the emoji. Now companies are starting to create their own custom emojis to add to the roster. That is where the second largest pizza chain comes into play. Recognizing the importance of the emoji, Domino’s Pizza took the opportunity to create a system that would make use of the pizza emoji, which would be used to order pizzas. In order to create this new ordering system, Domino’s enlisted the help of the Crispin Porter + Bogusky advertising agency[6]. Once completed, Domino’s began to release “teasers” about the new campaign by sending out numerous cryptic tweets using nothing but the pizza emoji.

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When the system went live on May 20th over 500 people signed up almost instantly, this promptly generated a blitz of media buzz, and user interest. While at first the system was only limited to Twitter, it soon expanded to text messaging, further adding to its potential user base. Along with the new pizza ordering system, Domino’s also launched The homepage of the site touts that 40% of Americans do not know what the various emojis mean. The website then goes on to translate each emoji, however most of it is clearly an advertisement for Domino’s. Going forward it will be interesting to see if Domino’s will be able to maintain a large consumer base, and whether or not other companies will adopt similar systems.


How it Works

To begin the pizza emoji ordering process, one must first go to the website: From there an account must be created where the individual will have to create a “Pizza Profile” that consists of their pizza of choice. Next, Tweet ordering must be enabled, and the person must be following Domino’s on Twitter. Now the pizza can be ordered by tweeting the pizza emoji at Domino’s.

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Finally the user will be sent a direct message, asking them to confirm the order. If all goes well, the pizza will then be on its way to be devoured.

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Similarly this process can also be done via text messaging, with Domino’s promising even more avenues of ordering in the future.


Campaign Goals

 A primary goal of the Domino’s campaign was to try and reach a younger audience. To achieve this Domino’s knew that a large percentage of people on social media platforms were millennials and younger, with the largest demographic on Twitter being in the 18-29 year old range[9]. In addition, Domino’s felt it was likely that the younger demographic would also be more prone to ordering pizza. Domino’s was quick to comprehend the magnitude of emojis that were being used among younger individuals. The next logical step for Domino’s would be to create a marketing campaign that would implement both emojis and social media. Another goal that Dominos hoped to achieve was to make the overall process of ordering pizza simpler and faster. Domino’s is known for its 30-minute pizza delivery, so it came as no surprise that they would want to continue their legacy of efficiency. Overall it appears that Domino’s has been highly successful in these endeavors.




For a marketing campaign to be highly innovated, while also breaking new ground, it must be very strong with what it is trying to accomplish. Domino’s emoji pizza campaign comes loaded with a plethora of strengths. The first one being the fact that Domino’s will now be forever associated with the pizza emoji. This is very powerful as it will aid brand awareness as the pizza emoji is used hundred of thousands of times a day, which in turn escalates the frequency that someone will be exposed to the emoji, thereby increasing the chance an individual would think about Domino’s. Another strength that this campaign has going for it is that literally every time someone uses the emoji to order a pizza, all of their followers will see it. Which is basically free advertising for Domino’s. Furthermore, it is likely that Domino’s will pull in high conversion rates due to the fact that a product is being purchased every time someone partakes in the campaign. Last but not least, one of the most important strengths of this campaign, is that Domino’s was able to siginfically reduce the time it takes to order a pizza. Tweeting or texting an emoji is a simply faster than ordering over the phone. However first-time users will still be required to create a pizza profile, which in itself is a relatively short process. Once everything is set up and ready to go, consumers are able to order their pizza in only five seconds. Much like the campaign as a whole, this is very impressive. (real time emoji tracker)


While relatively low, Domino’s emoji campaign does show signs of potential weaknesses. First and foremost, using the emoji to order pizza is not 100% reliable, and it actually fails a good percentage of the time. This includes individuals not receiving any responses, or having a delayed order[10]. There have even been reports of people not receiving their pizza until three hours later. Secondly, while most of the advertising for the campaign has been successful, one did not fair so well. The commercial in question was titled Sara loves Emoji, and it shows Modern Family actress Sara Hyland texting the pizza emoji to her friend and brother, with them misunderstanding her intentions. She then sends the same emoji to Domino’s, and says: “Domino’s is the only one that gets me”. The main point that this advertisement was trying to convey was that Domino’s was the only one that knew Sara wanted pizza. The commercial completely missed its mark with viewers, as the video currently sits at 174 likes versus 149 dislikes. Most of the comments expressed that the audience felt Hyland’s character was being a spoiled brat and should have just got the pizza herself.



Moving forward Domino’s will need to find more opportunities to extend the reach and longevity of the pizza emoji campaign. To do so, it will need to increase the different ways that customers can order pizza using the emoji. In this regard, Domino’s is already planning to implement the ordering system in other popular electronic devices such as smart watches, and smart televisions. Along the same lines as the devices, Domino’s could also expand to allow orders to be placed through more social media channels such has Instagram, and Pinterest. In addition, to increase the duration of the campaign, Domino’s will need to ensure that the ordering process is streamlined, and operates smoothly.



The biggest threat that Domino’s needs to address is the beleaguered ordering system that continues to have a moderately high failure rate. If other companies are able to create a system that is better at eliciting sales through emojis, there could be the potential risk that Domino’s could lose revenue over it, as well as a good share of their customer base. If Domino’s stays vigilant to these threats, it is likely that they will continue to find success in their campaign.



Emoji pizza ordering is a prime example of what a modern day campaign should entail. It was able to accomplish so much, just based on a simple idea, which was both ingenious and innovative. It is likely that Domino’s has ushered in a new age of marketing though social media, thereby forcing other companies to adopt similar strategies in order to be competitive.


Pizza & Emoji – A More Perfect Union