Superheroes of Marketing: Tales of Resilience and Triumph
In the dynamic world of business, companies often face challenges that demand a super-heroic response. Meet the “Superheroes of Marketing,” three iconic characters representing the incredible stories of companies that navigated the tumultuous seas of commerce and emerged victorious through strategic marketing.
Captain Comeback: Domino’s Resurgence
Super Power Stats:
Speed: Impressive (Domino’s store count grew from 121 in 1996 to 962 in 2016)
Strength: Solid (Domino’s sits at number 692 in the S&P 1,000 as of January, 2024)
Agility: Masterful (Domino’s pivoted on a dime by changing their recipe)
Charisma: Incredible (Not many companies admit their past mistakes so openly)
In the heart of a sales slump, where pizzas once flew out the door, arose the valiant “Captain Comeback.” His mission? To save a struggling pizza empire from the depths of mediocrity. Domino’s Pizza, the beloved chain, found itself in dire straits as sales plummeted and customer satisfaction waned.
It was in 2010, after Domino’s hired new CEO Patrick Doyle, that Caption Comeback took on the franchise’s arch nemesis: Product Quality. With unwavering determination, Captain Comeback—inspired by the spirit of renewal—orchestrated a marketing masterstroke. In a display of deft boldness, Domino’s shared focus group comments such as “worst pizza I ever had”; “the sauce tastes like ketchup”; and “the crust tastes like cardboard.” Doyle appeared in ads himself, promising to work day and night to get better. Transparently admitting past mistakes, they embraced customer feedback, creating a narrative of evolution and improvement. Behind the power of a revamped recipe, Captain Comeback delivered a knockout blow to product quality concerns.
With that old nemesis out of the way, Captain Comeback focused on beefing up the Domino’s arsenal through advanced tech. According to Doyle, “We are as much a tech company as we are a pizza company.” Domino’s has been an unstoppable force behind innovations such as a pizza tracking app, a specially redesigned Chevy Spark delivery car with warming oven, and current experiments with drone and robotic delivery.
The result? Domino’s not only revived its fortunes but soared to new heights, becoming a beacon of resilience in the marketing universe. Captain Comeback had orchestrated a turnaround so remarkable that it has become a case study in the annals of business history.
Domino’s stock price has risen from $8.76 per share in 2010 to a whooping $418 in 2024. As seen in the graph below, in addition to an increase in global revenue, store locations have also grown rapidly in a short amount of time. Captain Comeback saved the day!
Morphic Maven: Lego’s Evolutionary Leap
Speed: Lightning Fast (Lego’s revenue grew from 900 million in 2004 to 9.4 billion in 2022)
Agility: Deft (Lego upped its brand by expanding into a movie franchise, theme parks, and other endeavors)
In the saturated landscape of toys and imagination, the “Morphic Maven” emerged as the guardian of Lego’s destiny. Once a humble brick in the toy kingdom, Lego faced obsolescence as digital diversions threatened to overshadow its iconic plastic blocks.
Undeterred, the Morphic Maven guided Lego through a transformative journey. Recognizing the need for change, Lego ventured beyond its traditional realm, embracing licensing agreements with beloved franchises and integrating technology into its products. This innovative approach catapulted Lego into a new era, proving that adaptation was the key to survival.
Lego’s reinvention not only revitalized the brand but also solidified its status as an enduring force in the toy industry. The Morphic Maven’s strategic vision became a blueprint for companies seeking to redefine themselves in a rapidly changing world.
Jorgen Vig Knudstorp took over the Dutch company when it was struggling in 2004 before building it to unprecedented heights. His message to his employees lends insight into the Lego management style:
“Thank you for doing all the things I never told you to do. You shouldn’t run a company based on what you tell (employees) to do. You should run it based on intention. The way I put it is that ‘context-setting is more important than controlling.’ So many companies are based on controlling. You get punished based on what you don’t do.”
The below graph illustrates Lego’s incredible growth (one U.S. dollar is worth 6.9 Danish Kroners as of January, 2024):
The Tenacious Titan: Apple’s Ever-Expanding Empire
Speed: Quick (Apple’s annual revenue grew from 45.6 billion in 2009 to 383 billion in 2023)
Strength: Indomitable (According to Forbes, Apple is the largest tech company and the 6th largest overall brand in the world)
Agility: Nimble (Apple has judiciously expanded into new avenues, such as smartphones, music, and television)
Charisma: Polarizing (While wildly popular with a huge segment of brand loyal consumers, many also love to hate this tech behemoth, which has sometimes been accused of avoiding integration with outside software in order to keep consumers in the Apple ecosystem)
In the realm of technological prowess, the “Tenacious Titan” stood as a beacon of perpetual innovation. Apple, a company synonymous with groundbreaking products, faced the challenge of maintaining growth when it seemed they had reached their zenith.
CEO Tim Cook stated, “You can focus on things that are barriers or you can focus on scaling the wall or redefining the problem.”
Undeterred by complacency, the Tenacious Titan climbed that wall, tirelessly seeking new avenues for expansion. From introducing revolutionary devices like the iPhone to venturing into services like Apple Music and Apple TV+, Apple continuously defied expectations. Their marketing strategies, centered around creating a seamless ecosystem and fostering brand loyalty, propelled them to unprecedented heights.
Cook explained Apple’s approach like this:
“We are the most focused company that I know of or have read of or have any knowledge of. We say no to good ideas every day. We say no to great ideas in order to keep the amount of things we focus on very small in number so that we can put enormous energy behind the ones we do choose…..It’s not just saying yes to the right products, it’s saying no to many products that are good ideas, but just not nearly as good as the other ones.”
The Tenacious Titan’s saga teaches us that even industry giants can continue to evolve and conquer new frontiers. Apple’s relentless pursuit of excellence serves as a reminder that the quest for growth is an ongoing journey, not a destination. The graph below illustrates how Apple’s revenue has trended up, despite already being the industry behemoth:
In the world of commerce, these Superheroes of Marketing showcase the power of adaptability, resilience, and visionary leadership. Their stories inspire businesses to embrace change, reinvent themselves, and chart a course toward enduring success.
At Ciniva, we have more than our share of super success stories in helping clients grow–or reinvent–their brands. See our case studies for a handful of examples. Reach out to us whenever you are in need of a super marketing team!