Domino's Overwhelmed by Huge Number of Russians Willing to Get Pizza Tattoos

And now the company is on the hook for a whole lot of dough.

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Sep 5 2018, 9:35pm

Photos: Getty Images - Matias Castello and Gareth Fuller. Composite by MUNCHIES Staff

I am hesitant to cover a brand's attempt at viral marketing via a tattoo promotion—think: lifetime (or limited) supply in exchange for inking a logo onto your living self—with any sort of breathless wonder because as it turns out lots of places do this all the time and people always take them up on it. (Some thousands of people even get brand tattoos without the promise of free food just because the restaurant foots the bill for the ink and those people help me understand how cults happen.)

This is just like, A Thing now—part of the peculiar fabric of how personal dignity and modern capitalism play off each other in increasingly dystopian ways. In fact, if you're willing to turn your body into a billboard, I bet you could get almost any brand to provide comestible compensation. (And if you are willing to do that, please pitch me the corresponding personal essay cause that's the sort of stunt journalism I want to see on this site.) But sometimes there's a glitch in the cost-benefit analysis and the allure of free food proves to be overpowering. Sometimes, the Brand gets a whole lot more participation than they bargained for.

On August 31, less than a week ago, Domino's posted on VKontakte (basically Russian Facebook) about a promotion offering "100 years" (effectively: a lifetime) of up to 100 free Domino's pizzas to anyone who tattooed the company's logo on their body and posted about it on social media. In the initial announcement, the period to post about your new brand-loyalty tat ran through the end of October. Yesterday, the company posted an urgent update closing the submission window because too many people took them up on the offer.

Seriously, there are so many.

In the new post, Domino's said it would honor the offer for the first 350 participants, thereby limiting the damage.

Perhaps you pride yourself on having a third-panel business brain that's all, "I went to Wharton and Domino's did this on purpose. It's called native advertising, look into it." But, assuming they make good on the offer and everyone involved milks it for as much free pizzas as possible, this could quite literally cost the company millions of dollars.

The initial VK post didn't specify what kind of pizza you can buy with your bod, but let's assume it's a medium cheese pie. That goes for about $8 (here in the U.S. at least). If all 350 qualified participants pick up 100 pies a year for, let's just say, 50 years (or literally half of what they're guaranteed but all that saturated fat can't be good for your life expectancy) Domino's is on the hook for literally $14 million dollars in free pizza over the next half century. That can't be good for their bottom line.

We've reached out to Domino's to better understand how they plan to honor the offer and if they would ever do something similar here in the States. A rep from their U.S. corporate offices explained that, "this program is being run by our master franchisee for Russia," and that they will try to put us in touch with someone there who can speak to the specifics. But at least we know it's legit.