Michael Lawton, Domino’s Pizza CFO and Eli Broad College of Business alumnus (BA, Accounting), presented to an audience of almost 100 on Friday, February 1, 2013, as the keynote speaker for a joint Global Business Club/Weekend MBA event. His presentation, entitled “Managing a Global Brand in a Franchise Environment,” highlighted Domino’s philosophy of maintaining a strong, consistent brand image while providing franchisees with the ability to customize the product and marketing campaigns to fit local tastes. “We actually have tremendous respect for the fact that folks across the globe have more knowledge in these areas,” stated Lawton. While he focused on the international aspects of branding the company, he also noted other branding issues the company has faced—including appealing to college students while maintaining the respect of moms, and finding a balance between being a product (food) versus a service (the familiar 30-minute guarantee).
He discussed how the philosophy on the franchisor-franchisee relationship has changed as the company has expanded internationally, and that Domino’s Pizza is always balancing local adaption vs. global consistency. “Everyone is going to do a hand-tossed product…but how do you go beyond that?” He illustrated his point by citing the potato toppings available in Europe and various fish and seaweed toppings available in Asian markets. Lawton also presented television commercials from the U.K., Australia, France, and India. Noting that some campaigns didn’t make it past corporate approval, he said that they are considered a “family product” and that they had on more than one occasion intervened to remove commercial campaigns from the airwaves within 24 hours of appearance.