Domino’s Pizza wanted me to ‘Avoid the Noid’ but I couldn’t.
For the first edition of the ‘Recollection Collection’ series I thought we’d take a look back at the creepy mascot that worked his way straight in to my ten-year-old heart. His skin-tight, red bunny suit was long forgotten by me until yesterday.
As I was scrolling through Facebook, biting my tongue and silently judging others (as I like to do), I was surprised to see an old familiar face in an advertisement.
I thought it was someone posting a retro, eighties ad, but low and behold, it was a new teaser from Domino’s Pizza. The Noid, it seems, is back.
For those less fortunate who are not children of the eighties, The Noid was a fairly popular advertising character created by Group 243, the advertising agency for Domino’s Pizza. He made his television debut in 1986.
The Noid character was a representation of all the things that make delivering a pizza in under thirty minutes difficult. He was the Wile E. Coyote to the Domino’s Roadrunner. Instead of a coyote however, this villain was a short, curmudgeonly old man in a suit with bunny ears. At least I think they were bunny ears.
And just like Wile E. Coyote, The Noid’s plans and schemes were always thwarted in the end – if you were Domino’s Pizza, that is. Any other pizza company could not seem to ‘Avoid the Noid’. Their deliveries would be stopped by bombs or any number of assorted anti-pizza weapons. Domino’s Pizza was always delivered; hot, fresh and on time to the salivating customer. Thirty minutes or less. In the end, The Noid would have to return to his hideout and concoct a new, more diabolical plan.
There were obvious deep seeded issues involving pizza but sadly, a real backstory was never revealed.
The Noid is everywhere!
At the height of The Noid’s fame, there were little pvc toys you could collect featuring the character in different poses and holding various weapons. I was lucky enough to have one or two. They were available for purchase with any pizza order. They also sold window clings, plush toys and thanks to BlueSky Software and Capcom, released a couple of video games.
The first video game release was a direct tie in to a Domino’s ad campaign. 1989’s ‘Avoid the Noid’ was released for the Commodore 64 and MS-DOS. The object was for the player to deliver a pizza to Doom Industries on the top floor of an apartment building. Standing in the player’s way were an assortment of Noid creatures with traps. The following year, in 1990, Capcom released a brand new Noid game for the Nintendo Entertainment System called ‘Yo! Noid!’, for the NES.
‘Yo! Noid’ was a 2D action game that was originally released in Japan. ‘Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru’ or “Masked Ninja Hanamaru” as it’s known in English, features a different version of the title character. Capcom then Americanized the game and released it in the United States in November of 1990. In this game, creatures led by Mr. Green (The Noid’s green suited doppelganger) are causing mayhem on the streets of New York City. The Mayor of New York makes a tough call and decides to ask The Noid to help stop his evil duplicate. What’s in it for The Noid, you ask? A huge pizza reward. Capcom may have been a little late to the party. At this point, people were starting to get a-Noid at Domino’s Pizza. One guy in particular.
Give me my name back!
On January 30th of 1989, a man named Kenneth Lamar Noid, reached his breaking point with the current Domino’s ad campaign. Kenneth suffered from mental illness and, despite what his family tried to tell him, thought the ad campaign was a personal attack on himself. Apparently he thought that Domino’s Pizza was telling everyone to avoid Kenneth Noid.
That day, Noid entered a Domino’s restaurant in Chamblee, Georgia, armed with a .357 Magnum. He held two of the store’s employees hostage for over five hours. He explained to the employees as well as the hostage negotiators that Domino’s owner Tom Monaghan had stolen his name. Noid forced the two employees to call Domino’s headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan and demanded $100,000 along with a white limousine to be used as a getaway vehicle.
At least give me a book… and some pizza
At one point in the stand-off, Noid offered to give up one of the hostages for a copy of the 1985 science fiction novel The Widow’s Son, written by Robert Anton Wilson. Police secured a copy but Noid went against his word. A while later, Noid became hungry and ordered the weary employees to make him two special pizzas. In thirty minutes or less, they delivered his order. Noid then placed the gun on his lap and dove into the mediocre pizza. Distracted by his hunger, he failed to notice that his two hostages had escaped.
Noid gave up 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. He didn’t go to prison but he did spend time in a mental institution. Sadly, Kenneth Lamar Noid committed suicide in 1995.
Domino’s has denied that the press around the incident is what caused them to cut ties with the character but he stopped appearing in commercials not long after.
Don’t call it a comeback
The Noid returned in 2011 as a promotional figure that Domino’s used for their Facebook page. He seemed to be gone almost as quickly as he’d arrived. In 2016, the Noid appeared briefly in some commercials for the “Pizza Payback” campaign. He showed up as a bit of an Easter egg in the background of a 2017 commercial and then again on a stop sign in a commercial in 2020.
Someone in the marketing department was pushing hard for his return and Domino’s finally relented. As of this month, The Noid can be seen in quick ads on various social media platforms. It appears that he’s returned to take on Domino’s new fleet of driverless delivery vehicles. For once I might be on his side. To further promote his return, he’s also being added to the recently released ‘Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!’ mobile game.
Welcome back, Noid. I didn’t realize it until yesterday but I missed you. In a world of lackluster corporate mascots and advertising campaign icons, your 35-year-old vendetta against pizza delivery is a welcome trip down memory lane.