Sometimes, companies are so focused on addressing a perceived shortfall or problem that they miss more important messages, or even send the wrong message to their stakeholders.

The newest commercial for Domino’s Pizza floored me because it’s a perfect example. Domino’s has been running a series of spots in which they admit that they haven’t been perfect in the past, but golly, they’re working on getting better. Most of the spots have been okay.

But the new spot features a Domino’s employee who’s taking a phone order and keeps screwing it up. The chain tries to use this as a humorous way to suggest that people order online (which I’m certain is much more profitable than paying people to answer the phone).

Yes, ordering pizza by phone can be frustrating. We’ve all dealt with an employee who heard “no anchovies” as “boatload of anchovies,” or mangled our names  in unimaginable ways. That’s a reality. But Domino’s ad inadvertently portrays the chain’s employees as a bunch of screwups who can’t be trusted. In essence, it tells us that if we’re foolish enough to order by phone, our order will be mishandled, and the only way to get satisfaction is to go online. Put differently, it says “trust our employees and you’ll regret it.”

They may think that will provide a short-term bump in their business, but I think the impression it leaves will cause a longer-term erosion.  A couple years from now, they’ll be running ads to convince us that their staff is the brightest in the business. Probably call them “pizza artists” or some similar nonsense.