Domino's stops avoiding Noid, brings him back

CHRISTINA REXRODE - AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — The Noid is coming back.

For those who can't remember, or were trying to forget, the Noid is the red-suited, rabbit-eared villain who bounced around Domino's Pizza commercials in the late 1980s. Starting Monday, Domino's will feature him in an arcade-style video game on its Facebook page for one week. The company will give away a coupon for a free pizza every minute to the player with the highest score.

Russell Weiner, chief marketing officer for Domino's Pizza Inc., is aware that many people find the Noid, well, annoying. But he also said that colleagues constantly ask him when the Noid will return.

"Every movie star has got folks who love them and hate them," Weiner said. "We're bringing the Noid back for folks who love him."

The Noid was born in 1986, the brainchild of a small ad agency in Domino's hometown of Ann Arbor, Mich.

He was a cartoon character of indeterminate species, never really talking but always laughing wickedly as he sent thunderstorms to bedevil Domino's pizza deliverers or bounced around on a pogo stick to try to flatten a cheese pie.

He was one of Domino's first forays into national TV advertising, and he was supposed to represent what happened when you ordered pizza from another company.

And he is a "he," by the way, not an "it," the company says.

He had a legion of admirers, showing up in a Nintendo game, a Michael Jackson video, with suction cup hands so you could stick him on the back of your Volkswagen.

And then in 1988 he all but disappeared, presumably joining Spuds MacKenzie and the California Raisins in the graveyard of '80s advertising icons.

Domino's says it retired the Noid because it had improved its name recognition so much that it figured the Noid's mission was accomplished.

Pop culture has occasionally feted him since then. He showed up in an episode of "The Simpsons" to deliver a sermon, and got beat up by Mayor West on an episode of "Family Guy."

Even Weiner struggles to define his company's former mascot. "You're asking philosophically?" he said, when asked what the Noid is.

The name, Weiner said, was meant to sound like "annoyed," as in "by cold or late pizza."

"But whether underneath the socks on his ears there are actual antennae sticking up, I couldn't say."