A few days ago, I received an official request from Domino’s Pizza Russia’s CEO, Guvenc Donmez. Mr. Donmez asked me to delete my posts that mention Domino’s from my personal pages on Facebook and Vkontakte (the most popular social networks in Russia). The grounds? Since I’m the CEO of Dodo Pizza, my posts allegedly express the company’s official position.
On top of that, Mr. Donmez says that my personal notes are a tool of unfair competition because they spread “false, inaccurate or distorted information” about Domino’s. He demands that I delete them all in seven business days. Otherwise, the company will lodge an official complaint to the authorities.
Let me give you some context. Domino’s opened its first pizza delivery in Russia in 1998. I launched Dodo Pizza more than ten years later—in 2011. By 2014, we already had 27 pizza shops, while Domino’s bumbled along with 19 deliveries.
Like Walmart in the beginning, we steered clear of the capital, opening pizza shops in small cities all over the country. We also launched franchising in 2012. Domino’s did it in 2016—by the end of the year when Dodo Pizza became the number one pizza chain in Russia (we now have more than twice as many pizzerias as Domino’s).
This year, we began conquering Russia’s capital—Domino’s home market, their main turf. In the first quarter of 2017, Domino’s had 76 pizzerias in the Moscow region. Now we have 49, and more are coming. This autumn, we spotted Guvenc Donmez with his team in one of our pizzerias.
It looks like they finally decided to take us seriously. I can imagine how painful it is for Domino’s managers to realize that they may lose the market to a company that didn’t even exist ten years ago (for more info on Dodo Pizza, check out our latest financial report).
So how will I deal with the letter? The same way as the global Domino’s CEO dealt with a letter from the Subway CEO in this ad:
I’m not going to delete anything from my pages. I’m prepared to advocate my right to express my personal opinion. I guess it’s an interesting question for us all: are CEOs allowed to express personal opinions regarding their competitors on their personal pages?
And most importantly, I’m going to prove that my notes don’t include “false, inaccurate or distorted information” about Domino’s.
Here is a translation of one of my posts that is requested to be deleted (the rest you’ll find below):
“…Domino’s places ads in front of the entrance of every Moscow Dodo Pizza. That’s about right! Be scared, panic, waste money. Barbarians are at the gate. Guys from Domino’s who read this, cancel your vacations and get ready for a bitter fight. We work seven days a week to kick your asses. We’ve come to take your market…”
P.S. I’m of a very high opinion of Domino’s. It’s an outstanding company we’ve learned a lot from—and will continue learning. It works in 85 countries and has about 14 thousand pizza shops. It’s a 57-year-old company. Domino’s is our strongest competitor in Russia. Guys from Domino’s, Guvenc Donmez, you’re tough cookies. And it will be a glorious battle.
Two other posts that are requested to be deleted:
Our dearest competitor, Domino’s Pizza, loves giving price cuts. To be honest, I sometimes get lost in the variety of deals and combos offered by Domino’s (just take a look at their website). I think that there are practically no Domino’s customers who have bought anything from them for full price.
How is it possible that Domino’s pursues such an aggressive price strategy and stays profitable? It’s simple. It’s just a business model. High menu prices. Smaller sizes, less amount of toppings. And, of course, the price of their ingredients. Manufacturers say that Domino’s is always looking for the cheapest ingredients on the market. Take a look—we just compared our pizzas and theirs.
We have a different business model; we believe that there is a different way. We believe in value, not in the best price, and we don’t give huge price cuts and don’t play our customers for fools. Who will win? We’ll see.
Reuters and The New York Times published articles about the plans of Domino’s and Papa John’s to conquer the Russian market. The tone suggests that they can’t lose, as if the local players are some savages. Dodo Pizza is now the leader in the Russian market, but it’s mentioned only once in the Reuters’ article—like “there is some kind of a pizza chain.” This self-assurance of the global players motivates me even more to destroy their small and cozy world.