The Inside Story of How Domino’s Got Its Advertising on Potholes

Employees at a number of US cities spent hours of unremunerated time helping Domino’s make its latest ad campaign, Paving for Pizza, internal documents show.

The documents, which Motherboard obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, contain a number of long email chains that spell out the terms of the Paving for Pizza campaign, which publicly debuted online June 11.


It began as—and arguably, remains—a lighthearted gesture. The idea for the campaign came from Domino’s longtime agency of record, Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B), which also made the company’s 2009 “Domino’s Pizza Turnaround” ad in which executives admit their former recipes were terrible.

The campaign’s premise was whimsical, yet simple: pothole-ridden roads damage your take-home pizza. Solution? Fix the roads and get your supper home safely.

In January, CP+B approached the cities of Athens, Georgia; Bartonville, Texas; and Milford, Delaware, offering them each grants of $5,000 to help them repair potholes in their town. In exchange, cities would carry out the repairs, take photos or videos of the repaired potholes, and stencil on a Domino’s logo along with the tagline “Oh yes we did.”

A fourth city—Burbank, California—got five potholes repaired in the filming of the Domino’s Paving for Pizza TV ad. The work there was done by the crew hired by the commercial’s production company, and not the city’s crews. The city did not receive $5,000. “We are not a partner with Domino’s,” Burbank media relations officer Jonathan Jones told me on the phone.

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