I don’t know about you, but commercials can often take me back to my formative years as quickly as any song or movie can. That is why we will continue this semi-regular feature on ’80s commercials that I consider particularly memorable, noteworthy, or forgotten. Television commercials were much more influential back when we were forced to watch them without the luxury to fast-forward through and/or stream shows with limited or no interruptions. This issue will cover the “Avoid the Noid” commercials for Domino’s Pizza from the ’80s.
The Noid was a character created by Domino’s Pizza to build their advertising campaign around in the mid-to-late ’80s. He was an irritating little dude meant to be the culprit who found ways to prevent your pizza from being delivered in 30 minutes or less. Domino’s claimed to be the way to “Avoid the Noid” and not worry about getting your pizza delivered in less than that magical half hour time frame.
The idea of The Noid was developed in 1986 by the Group 243 advertising agency on behalf of Domino’s Pizza. The Noid was brought to life through the magic of Claymation (stop action clay animation) and they hired a Claymation master, Will Vinton, to first sketch the character and then also produce/animate the commercials. Vinton is probably best known for creating and animating the California Raisins starting in 1986 as well. Vinton’s design was a tiny pint-sized pixie with beady eyes and buck teeth who wore a red skin-tight body suit with rabbit ears and a big N emblazoned on his chest. To add to his annoying personality, they gave The Noid an irritating voice provided by actor/puppeteer Pons Maar. You could describe him as a miniature version of a super villain from a comic book or cartoon. The Noid was quite persistent in his efforts to ruin pizzas and prevent them from getting to their destination in a timely manner.
The commercials began airing in late 1986 (and would originally run until 1995). Domino’s Pizza was here to rescue everybody from The Noid. The campaign definitely worked making a lasting impression on viewers and helping Domino’s gain market share in the competitive pizza delivery segment. The Noid was helping them go head-to-head against Pizza Hut. Anybody who watched television during those years will undoubtedly remember seeing the Domino’s “Avoid the Noid” commercials. Here are a sampling of some of the commercial spots used in the ’80s…
The Noid became a household name in the ’80s and one of the iconic brand mascots of the decade. But on January 30, 1989, the company endured one of the worst mascot-related public relations disasters in history. If you did not know, the character’s name originated from the word “annoyed” (get it, a Noid?). But there was a guy with the last name of Noid who felt it was picking on him personally.
On that day in January of 1989, Kenneth Lamar Noid, a mentally ill man who thought the ad campaign was a personal attack on himself, entered a Domino’s restaurant in Chamblee, Georgia, armed with a gun and held two employees hostage for over five hours. After telling the employees that Domino’s owner Tom Monaghan had stolen his name, he forced them to call Domino’s headquarters and demand $100,000 and a white limousine as getaway transportation. Noid eventually became hungry and forced the employees to make him two special pizzas. While Noid ate the pizzas with his gun in his lap, the hostages escaped and Noid surrendered to police shortly after. Noid was charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, extortion, and possession of a firearm during a crime. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and spent time in a mental institution.
Despite this PR disaster, Domino’s kept The Noid around and continued to employ him in their commercials for several years after. Unfortunately, in 1995, the Noid story took another turn for the tragic when, still convinced that Domino’s Pizza was out to make his life miserable, Kenneth Lamar Noid committed suicide in his Florida apartment. The pizza chain immediately stopped using The Noid in their marketing for quite some time thereafter.
The Noid made a couple brief returns for Domino’s over the years, but then would usually vanish again. On April 26, 2021, The Noid officially returned in a brand new commercial about a potential self-driving robotic pizza delivery service. The Noid is up to his old tricks with several creative, but unsuccessful, attempts at preventing the pizza from being delivered. Now a CGI character designed by Artjail (instead of claymation), he still resembles The Noid that we remember. Here is the new 2021 “The Return of the Noid” commercial for Domino’s Pizza…
There you go, another trip down memory lane in the form of TV commercials. Thanks in part to The Noid, Domino’s Pizza is still one of the top pizza chains in the world with over nine billion in annual sales. And, yep, like so many other awesome things, it started in the ’80s.
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