If you were watching TV in the 80s and 90s, you may remember a spunky little clay character called "Noid" who was featured in Domino's Pizza advertisements. The Noid wears a red bunny-eared bodysuit with an "N" on its chest, and he's a physical manifestation of all of the barriers to delivering a pizza quickly. This little weirdo was all over in the '80s and '90s, from commercials to video games to Michael Jackson's anthology film Moonwalker.
Domino's Pizza Success Story
The Noid was part of Domino's rise to fame, but there's more to the story with this Domino's Pizza mascot. In 1960, the Monaghan brothers bought a struggling pizza shop, DomiNick's, for nine hundred dollars. After a year with no success, James left the pizza business, and Tom Monaghan was left with the failing shop. A few years later, DomiNick's became one of the busiest pizza shops in the country!
Tom Monaghan attributed his success to "keeping things simple." In 1965, the thriving pizza shop changed its name to Dominos, the pizza chain we all know and love. By 1983, the shop had opened 1000 pizza stores! To continue distinguishing themselves as the best pizza shop around, Domino's instated a policy of delivering pizzas in thirty minutes or less.
Avoid the Noid
To spread the word about Domino's new fleet-footed pizza deliveries, they created a new marketing campaign, which is when "Noid" arrived on the scene. Noid was created in 1986 by Domino's Pizza's advertising agency, Group 243. Group 243 hired Will Vinton Studios to sketch the Noid and make the commercials. Noid represented the struggles of delivering a pizza in 30 minutes. He always tried his best to overcome his many obstacles.
Commercials involving Noid employed the slogan "Avoid the Noid." The advertising campaign even created a computer game called Avoid the Noid, in which characters did their best to deliver a pizza in 30 minutes in an apartment building full of Noids. Some of the Noids had water balloons or missiles to help them thwart the pizza delivery. A year later, a different video game, Yo! Noid, was released for the NES.
An Unexpected Repercussion
Domino's was thrilled with the popularity and success of the Noid advertising campaign until one day in 1989. On January 30, 22-year-old mentally ill Kenneth Lamar Noid entered a Domino's Pizza restaurant in Chamblee, Georgia, holding a .357 Magnum. Noid thought the ad campaign was a personal attack on him, so he held two employees hostage in the Domino's for over five hours. He told the Domino's employees that owner Tom Monaghan had stolen his name, and then he forced them to call Domino's headquarters and demand $100,000 and a white limousine for his getaway.
He also requested a copy of The Widow's Son, offering to exchange one hostage for it, but he then reneged on the offer. Noid became hungry after a few hours and demanded that the Domino's hostages make him two special pizzas. As he ate them, the hostages were able to escape. Soon after, Noid surrendered to the police. The police reported that Noid had been "having an ongoing feud in his mind with the owner of Domino's Pizza about the 'Noid' commercials." He believed that the campaign ad was designed to mock him, telling people to avoid him.
Noid was charged with aggravated assault, extortion, kidnapping, and possession of a firearm during a crime. However, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and was then sent to a mental institution. Domino's thought the storm had passed, and continued to use the Noid for ridiculous commercials to advertise their speedy service. Unfortunately, in 1995, Kenneth Lamar Noid committed suicide in his apartment, still under the impression that Domino's Pizza was targeting him. Domino's Pizza immediately stopped using Noid in their ad campaign.
The Return of the Noid
The Noid has been brought back bit by bit in the last decade, but he hasn't risen to his previous prominence. In 2009, Domino's Pizza created 1,000 T-shirts which featured the Noid. Along with this, the mascot's 25th birthday was celebrated with the video game The Noid's Super Pizza Shootout, a tribute to Avoid the Noid.
The Noid continues to make subtle appearances, showing up as a pinball machine character in 2016 and making an appearance in some Domino's commercials in 2016 and 2017. Although the Noid helped Domino's Pizza to become what it is today, it's hard to forget his checkered past.