Co.Design

Death And Pizza: How Domino's Lost Its Mascot

The Noid wasn't just a terrible corporate mascot. He annoyed one man to his death.

In 1986, advertising agency Group 243 was tasked with creating a mascot for Domino's Pizza. Their creation—the Noid—was one of the most inexplicably popular mascots in corporate history. But in a case of branding gone bad, the Noid's rise plummeted when he inspired a real-life crime by a schizophrenic namesake.

Even compared to the worst corporate mascots, the Noid was a unique grotesquerie. A gibbering, pot-bellied, buck-toothed pervert squeezed into a skintight rabbit costume, the Noid was a Hamburglar-like character wholly devoted to delaying pizza deliveries. Only Domino's Pizza, the ad campaign claimed, delivered pizzas that were "Noid-proof." Avoid the Noid by ordering from Domino's and get your pizza in 30 minutes or less.

The Noid was a strange character to capture the cultural zeitgeist, but in the 1980s, he was popular enough to earn not just one, but two separate video games, as well as dominate a line of toys and merchandise. The Noid's bizarre popularity was probably helped by the fact that Domino's Pizza chose Will Vinton Studios—creators of the California Raisins—to bring the Noid to life through Claymation.

But as an informative post by Zachary Crockett over at Priceonomics explains, what eventually killed off the Noid had nothing to do with the public coming to its senses, but rather what may have been "the worst mascot PR in history" at the height of his popularity.

On January 30, 1989, a 22-year-old man named Kenneth Lamar Noid walked into a Domino's Pizza in Atlanta, Georgia, with a .357 magnum revolver and took two employees hostages. After a five-hour standoff during which Noid demanded $100,000 in ransom money, the employees in question escaped. But the damage to the Noid brand was done: not only was the headline too good to ignore ("Domino's Hostages Couldn't Avoid the Noid this Time") but it turned out that Kenneth Lamar Noid actually believed he was the Noid—or, at least, the Noid's original inspiration.

A paranoid schizophrenic, Noid believed that Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan had created the "Avoid the Noid" campaign specifically to persecute him. Sadly, the incident sounded the death knell for both Noids. Unable to shake his belief that Domino's had created the Noid campaign to ridicule him, Noid spent three months in a mental institution, and eventually committed suicide in 1995. As for the Claymation demon that drove him to his death, save a brief appearance in a Facebook game in 2011 to celebrate his 25th birthday, the Noid hasn't been seen since.

Read the entire post on Priceonomics here.

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6 Comments

  • Nick Dufrene

    Thanks a lot Arin. I could have gone my entire life without knowing this. GREP!

  • Dan Swanson

    The Noid has made a few appearances in modern-day entertainment, including an altercation in the Family Guy episode "Deep Throats," in an episode of 30 Rock,[1] in a segment of Michael Jackson: Moonwalker and in two episodes of The Simpsons, once as a Thanksgiving Day parade balloon in the episode "Homer vs. Dignity," and the other in person in the episode "She of Little Faith".

    Domino's brought the Noid back for a limited run of t-shirts in December 2009.[2] Proceeds from the sale of these "Avoid The Noid!" t-shirts went to St. Jude's Children's Hospital. A limited run of 1,000 shirts was made.

    On May 4, 2011, the Noid was brought back as a promotional figure by Domino's to be used in a campaign on their Facebook page [3] and made a brief appearance as a stuffed toy at the end of a May 2011 commercial promoting a one-topping pizza deal. The 25th birthday of the Noid mascot is celebrated with a video game "The Noid's Super Pizza Shootout" homage to "Avoid the Noid".[4]

  • pizzapaul

    Have you ordered Dominos lately? The Noid is obviously alive and well. When was the last time Dominos delivered a pizza in 30 minutes?

  • 2e6df163

    That's too bad, doesn't really seem like a reason to do away with a mascot entirely. I was about 12 when the character was at its peak and I was one of those fans. I'd never heard of this incident until now, I can't imagine anyone taking a negative view of a character just because someone with a mental illness took it personally. Oh well. Thanks for sharing!

  • Michael David Linzenmeyer

    Awww man! That's CRAP! One psycho...literally, a schizophrenic and no more??!! BRING HIM BACK!!!!!