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The most depressing 29 words you’ll read today are about the purchase and delivery of a Domino’s pizza. Specifically, what Domino’s, the international chain, once was, and what it will soon be. Moreover, what we will soon be as Domino’s and companies like it infiltrate the various aspects of our daily lives under the guise of “convenience.”
According to a new article in Digiday, Domino’s no longer considers itself a fast food company so much as “an e-commerce company that sells pizza.” Here are the aforementioned 29 words:
There’s also a data play: The more Domino’s can track about its consumers and their eating and spending habits, the better it can customize loyalty programs and ad targeting.
Most of the phrases within those two lines are common tech jargon: “data play,” “spending habits,” “ad targeting.” Any passive Internet user knows how frequently he or she feels stalked by brands they have recently Googled. But until recently, this aggressive brand-human flirtation stuck to mostly innocuous realms like shoes and plane tickets. Anecdotally, the vast majority of us are hit with ads for larger items that we purchase a few times per year, not smaller, cheaper products that we buy a few times per month or per week. In other words, not food.
In lieu of ordering a pizza over the phone, Domino’s now offers you the convenience of ordering on your desktop, or your iPad, or through an app on your Smart TV, or on your smartwatch, or directly through your Ford’s dashboard, or through “Dom,” a Siri-esque voice recognition software embedded within your Domino’s mobile app. That is to say, Domino’s technology has come so far as to let you speak into your phone and tell a program that you’re in the mood for a Bacon Cheeseburger Feast pizza, or a Memphis BBQ Chicken pizza, or a Philly Cheese Steak pizza, which will then relay your order to a Domino’s franchise within the vicinity of your home. This innovation is purportedly leaps and bounds better than calling that same local franchise and placing your order with a sentient being.
Of course, Domino’s is simply reacting to the market. Why wait for a DVD to arrive in the mail when you can stream other programming instantly? Why stand in line at a bank to deposit a check when you can scan it with your phone? There’s no use in blaming Domino’s for trying to march in line with various digital trends, however fleeting or depressing they may be.
But among those trends and buzz-phrases in the above excerpt, the terrifying word is “track.” A few years ago, the idea of Domino’s customers tracking their delivery via the “Domino’s Pizza Tracker” was a novel, gimmicky, concept. But the onus was on customers to use the technology (or scoff at it). Now, customers have an interactive Domino’s menu embedded within their cars, TVs, wrists, or all of the above.
You used to have to crave a pizza before calling to order one—and maybe even feel a little guilty after doing so. But as Domino’s (and its competitors) continually embed themselves within the facets of your daily life, how do you know if you’re actually craving something, or if the various machines on or around your body are merely telling you to crave it? We’ve always been susceptible to advertising; advertising works. But as ads transform into conveniences, and as conveniences are literally built and sewn into the products that make up our lives, what becomes of our individual preferences? Did you just order Domino’s because it’s Friday and you want to splurge, or did you just order Domino’s because you looked down at your wrist and saw it was there?