A Slice of Sensitivity

Mon Jan. 13, 1997 4:00 AM EST

With over 1,100 stores around the globe, you'd think Domino's Pizza International would know a thing or two about Establishing An International Presence. They boast of a "Master Franchise Agreement" that "eliminates many cultural challenges of overseas development," and tout their ability to accomodate such significant "cultural differences" as "delivery vehicles, store design, and pizza topping selections." [Fun fact!: The top topping in Guatemala is Black Bean Sauce!]

When you're so busy figuring out that guava is the most popular topping in Columbia, and organizing all those bicycle delivery drivers in the Netherlands, who has time to screen advertising for offensive racial caricatures? Gary McCausland, managing director of Domino's international subsidiary, explains the difficulties in the following letter to Conteh Davis of Direct Action for Rights and Equality:

August 20, 1996

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Dear Mr. Davis,

...I would like to express my sincere apologies and confirm that it is not the policy of Domino's Pizza to promote and/or endorse any such advertisement material. I further confirm that our agreements and documentation are very specific with respect to advertising promotions which are appropriate within the Domino's Pizza family.

Approximately one and a half years ago, we were informed of this advertised material and contacted our Franchisee in Guatemala and expressed our extreme disappointment and have requested and received confirmation that such a campaign is offensive and inappropriate. We have further received confirmation that this campaign was immediately ceased at that time. In order to assure that there is no miscommunication, we will be dispatching one of our Senior Operations Directors to Guatemala to review with our Franchisee the parameters for appropriate advertising material, and to confirm, once again, our advertising politics.

I would like to thank you for kindly pointing out to us that this program was in existence. I cannot express to you my sincere regret and disappointment that this has taken place. I can assure you that Domino's Pizza will do everything necessary to ensure that this does not happen again.

Kind Regards,

Gary McCausland
Managing Director