Domino’s “Paving for Pizza” is an engaging campaign for all audiences. But where’s the Noid?

Several weeks ago, Domino’s Pizza rolled out (pun intended) its “Paving for Pizza” initiative. The TV spot features a man racing home, intently anticipating the taste of the hot, fresh Domino’s pizza perched precariously on the seat beside him. Suddenly the man swerves to avoid a crater in the road—but he’s too slow. The red, white, and blue box topples to the floor, and though you don’t see it, you know that only a gooey mess remains within. The disappointment on the man’s face is palpable.

A road crew in Domino’s-branded hard hats arrives to fix the pothole as the voiceover announces that Domino’s is asking customers to nominate their town for pothole repairs at It’s a commendable undertaking, one that appeals to folks from all walks of life. In a hotly contentious political climate, people on both sides of the road agree that local governments are useless when it comes to fixing them. Enter Domino’s to the rescue! The ad is effective because its mission appeals to everyone.

But for me, something was missing.

As a novelist and former comic book writer/editor, I’m an advocate for story-driven advertising. When I worked at Marvel Comics, all assistant editors were required to attend weekly classes about the craft of comic book storytelling. At these entertaining yet educational sessions, we learned the following formula:

Story = Character + Desire + Conflict + Resolution

Does the “Paving for Pizza” TV ad meet all the requirements for a story? Let’s see:

  • Character: the man driving the car
  • Desire: he wants to get home to eat his pizza
  • Conflict: a pothole causes the pizza to nosedive off the seat
  • Resolution: Domino’s road crew fixes the pothole

So yes, the essential elements of a story are there. But in a world of visual storytelling, sometimes a colorful iconic figure can enhance the story’s effectiveness. In their book, Storynomics: Story-Driven Marketing in the Post-Advertising World, Thomas Gerace and screenwriting guru Robert McKee assert that in “storified advertising,” product-centric companies often cast their product as a personified character, (e.g., Mr.Clean). The same principle can be applied to the product’s antagonist (a.k.a. the conflict) as well.

That’s why the “Paving for Pizza” campaign would be an ideal opportunity for Domino’s to reintroduce its 1980s pizza pest, the Noid—a gremlin-like villain in a red body suit with a black N inscribed on its chest. The Noid was a physical manifestation of the challenges inherent in getting a hot pizza delivered quickly and in one piece—the ultimate supervillain for their new story!

In this modernized version, I see the Noid jumping around with a jackhammer wreaking all sorts of havoc on the nation’s roads. The man driving home with his pizza hits one of the Noid’s potholes. He returns home with his ruined pizza and beams the Domino’s signal into the sky. The Noid continues his rampage until the Domino’s steamroller arrives to save the day and squashes the Noid. It’s a story worthy of a comic book!

Speaking of stories, in my research for this post, I came across an odd but true tale about a man named Kenneth Lamar Noid who thought the Noid ads were a personal attack on him. A police chief called him para-noid. 🙂

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