Any Way You Slice It
Obviously no one seriously believes that pizza is an essential part of economic creativity. Everyone understands that the two just correlate with each other; not that the one literally causes the other. This commercial, therefore, is “tongue in cheek.” What, then, is the point in making it? Why is it expected to sell pizzas to people who create?
The reason is because in a sense, pizza actually is a causative factor in economic production. In today’s heavily taxed and regulated economy, the only way that people can be both economically productive and have the things that they value (free time) is if they sacrifice something else (their long-term physical health). Convenient foods like pizza, therefore, become an essential ingredient to being productive (without having to change one’s lifestyle in the short-term). Of course, it shouldn’t have to be this way. If the taxes and regulations that economically creative people are burdened by didn’t exist, people wouldn’t, for example, have to work as much in order to achieve the same financial goals they currently achieve (giving them more free time to do things like, not coincidentally, prepare healthier, less convenient food that they could then bring to work with them). Or, if for some other reason they did choose to work the same amount, they would have more money, and therefore they would be able to afford to have healthier food brought to them instead of pizza.
None of this is Dominos’ fault. The company is but one actor in a much larger economic and political culture. Because of that, it knows that it cannot do anything (at least in the short-term) to change this predicament that it’s customers face. It knows that, for the time being at least, pizza will remain in demand by those who work hard and for long hours. However, Dominos also knows that people wish they didn’t have to choose between their free time, their current level of economic productivity, and their long-term physical health. That they feel should be able to have all three (and that they know that they would, if not for burdensome taxes and regulations). Knowing that, Dominos realizes that, like their company, their customers’ companies are but small parts of a much wider culture – and therefore, like them, cannot do anything about it. Knowing this, Dominos realizes that many of their customers are beleaguered with a sense of hopelessness about it, and are therefore desperate to pretend that it doesn’t exist. To do so is not only psychologically comforting, but – from a productivity standpoint – necessary.
To know, day to day and moment to moment, that the choices you are making for the sake of your short-term are undermining your long-term, would be paralyzing. Especially paralyzing if you knew that such a predicament were entirely artificial. Not the result of some contradictory quirk built into the fabric of reality as such, but an artificial edifice built upon a social structure that is nothing more than the choices of other people (politicians, regulators, and the people who vote for them). If one were constantly aware of this, it would be all he could think about – and he would devote everything that he had to resolving it.
This, obviously, would not be good for Dominos’ short-term bottom line – so instead, in this commercial, they have devised the perfect message. They have subtly insinuated that there actually is a direct connection between pizza and economic production – giving their customers exactly the excuse needed to continue to ignore the false predicament mentioned above (and, for the short-term at least, go on consuming Dominos’ products). It’s perfect because on the one hand, if the commercial’s message is taken literally (and it will be, for reasons mentioned above), it’s a useful vehicle to go on pretending that (today’s politically distorted) reality is better than it actually is – and on the other hand, if that back fires – if people glimpse the existence of the twisted, artificial predicament they are actually living under (and therefore grasp that an exemplary proof of it is, ironically, Dominos, desperate for short-term profits, is sacrificing it’s long-term interests by twisting it’s customers psychologically) – Dominos can retreat behind the insistence that they didn’t mean it. That the message wasn’t serious, but merely “tongue in cheek” (leaving the consumer with the impression that things must not be so bad, since companies are not so desperate that they would be that sinister). Either way you slice it, the evasion of the true cause of the demand for pizza is successfully evaded.
To remind the consumer that pizza is an option within this unfortunate, (fundamentally) unnecessary predicament is completely acceptable (that’s what advertising is for). What is unacceptable, however, is to attempt to reshape the way people think about the predicament – and that is precisely what this commercial is doing. Not only is it bad for the consumer (both physically and psychologically), but – ironically – in the long run it’s bad for Dominos as well. Dominos is a private, for-profit business – and as such it is burdened by the same taxes and regulations that it’s customers are (which is what made them resort to such desperate, short-term tactics). If they wish to remain in existence, these burdens will need to be dealt with – which means that the general public will have to be able to acknowledge that they exist. If not, then burdens will continue to grow to the point where luxuries such as unhealthy pizza being delivered to one’s door will no longer be viable. This commercial, to the extent that a commercial can, ensures that that will happen.