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The Domino’s ad that vanished from YouTube

The Domino’s ad that vanished from YouTube

“Hello, everyone. I’m Scott, President of Domino’s Pizza. Have you heard of Hatsune Miku? Today…” This is ‘Domino’s App featuring Hatsune Miku,’
and for years, I’ve considered it my favorite YouTube video of all time. If you’ve seen this video, you probably understand
why I feel this way, and while I could sit here and describe all the things that
make it special — the editing, the pacing, the extreme close-ups of Scott’s face — I’d
be doing it a disservice, and it’s probably best if you just watch the whole video for
yourself. So why then, in 2018, am I talking about a
YouTube video that came out 5 years ago? Because late last year, completely out of
nowhere, the video just disappeared – completely vanishing from YouTube search. This… is ‘The Disappearance of Domino’s
App feat. Hatsune Miku.’ Now, this video is extremely important to
me, and as soon as I noticed that it had been taken offline, my mind began reeling. Nothing about taking this video down made
any sense; my memory of the video was that it was immensely popular. I looked into it, and discovered that I was
right — over its lifespan, the ‘Domino’s App feat. Miku’ commercial had accumulated over 1.3
million views. But, for some reason, Domino’s Pizza Japan
had decided to unlist the video from YouTube, making it virtually impossible to find for
anyone who didn’t have the link already. Now, to really put that number of 1.3 million views into perspective, let’s look at some of the statistics. Over the years, Domino’s Japan has uploaded
dozens and dozens of videos, mostly commercials. A lot of the channel is just small adverts
with only a couple hundred views, and then you’ve got a handful of commercials and music
videos – most from the Miku era – with a decent number of views each. Here’s a look at the top 10 videos of all
time on Domino’s Japan’s, sorted by views. In first place, there’s ‘Domino’s App featuring
Hatsune Miku,’ which completely dwarfs everything else Domino’s Japan has ever done on YouTube. This video accounted for 72% of Domino’s Japan’s
lifetime channel views. To put that another way: the Miku ad got more
views than every other video Domino’s Pizza has ever uploaded… *combined*. That is a staggering statistic. Objectively speaking, this video is the most
successful thing that Domino’s Japan ever did – on YouTube, or in internet video
writ large. So it kind of begs the question: why did they
remove the video? Where did it go? I began with a few theories. The first theory is also maybe the simplest,
which is: as much attention as the Miku ad got online, it’s possible that it simply wasn’t
the kind of attention that Domino’s Japan was looking for. Yes, the video was insanely popular — but
it was mostly popular with an international, largely English-speaking audience. So while the video was watched over 1.3 million
times, the people watching it were, by and large, people outside of Domino’s Japan’s
market – people who effectively had no buying power as far as Domino’s Japan was concerned. It’s not a stretch to conclude that they were
less than thrilled with this outcome. Now, theory #2 is a little bit more technical,
and believe it or not, it has to do with Apple’s latest major update to the iPhone’s operating system. Last year, Apple released iOS 11, and an unfortunate
side effect of that release was that it required Apple to discontinue support for hundreds
and hundreds – if not thousands – of 32-bit applications. One of those apps? “Domino’s App featuring Miku,” the very app
the original video intended to popularize. Now, this theory, to me, seemed rock solid. Why would Domino’s bother leaving up a video
promoting an app that’s no longer functional? And when I started to look at the timeline,
even that began to line up. iOS 11 was released September 19, 2017, right
around the time the Miku video was unlisted from YouTube. This, to me, was a pretty satisfying answer,
and I felt like the mystery was as close to resolved as it was going to get. And while the video had been removed from
the YouTube search results, anyone with the link could still watch it, so ultimately,
it wasn’t that big of a deal that it had been unlisted. Then, in January 2018… something significant happened. I sat down with my morning cup of coffee and
went to go watch the video, just like I do every morning, and saw this. The video… was gone. Completely gone: not just unlisted, but had been removed from
YouTube entirely. And not only that, many of the mirrors of
the video that had been reuploaded by other YouTube users over the years also vanished
overnight. The video had gone from from unlisted… to
deleted. I double-checked with friends in Japan to
make sure the video hadn’t just been region-locked, and they confirmed: the video was completely gone for everyone. Dismayed at the loss of one of my favorite
pieces of internet content to ever be made, I went into full research mode, and while looking into it, I found irrefutable
proof of the video’s deletion: January 13th, 2018: the day when overnight,
1.3 million views went missing from Dominos Japan’s YouTube channel. Unlisting the video was one thing, but to
completely delete one of the most important YouTube videos of all time with no explanation
was an unprecedented act of aggression from Domino’s Japan, and one that deserved an answer. And for all the speculation I had done about
where the video had gone, I came to realize that the only people with real, actual, concrete
answers about what happened to the Miku video were inside the walls of one very specific
building: Domino’s Japan Inc.’s Tokyo-based corporate
headquarters, located in the Iwamotochō district in Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward. Running out of options and desperate for some
sort of resolution, I knew what I had to do. So I booked a plane ticket and got on a flight
to Tokyo in search of answers. I knew that if I were to go to Domino’s Japan
in person and explain what this video meant to so many people, they would have no choice
but to put the video back online, or at least get some answers. After arriving in Tokyo, I dropped my stuff
off at my Airbnb and I began devising a plan. I knew there was no way Domino’s Japan would
willingly allow me to film inside their corporate headquarters, so what I decided to do instead
was stick my phone in my shirt pocket and surruptitiously film the entire event. The next morning, I boarded the train to Domino’s
Japan headquarters with no real idea what what to expect. To be 100% honest, I was a little bit terrified:
would I be able to find the building? And, if I managed to find it, would I even
be able to get inside? If I did make it in the doors of Domino’s
HQ, how long would it be before I got thrown out? Or, worse, was I about to be arrested in a
foreign country for trespassing on private property owned by the most powerful pizza
company in all of Japan? As I began my walk from the train station
to where I thought the building was, I started to feel more and more conspicuous. I was very visibly out of place – this neighborhood
was almost entirely office buildings, and the vast majority of the other people on the
street were salarymen on their way to work. This area was about as far as you could get
in Tokyo from what you would consider a tourist neighborhood, and I felt so out of place that
I began wondering if the stares I felt like I was getting imagined or real. Soon, I arrived at what I was pretty sure
was the correct place. Slowly, I realized the only way I would know
for sure if this was Domino’s headquarters was to risk it all and walk in the door. I was shaking with nervous energy, but I knew
that this would not work if I looked suspicious, and that the only way I’d be able to pull
this off was if I pulled it together and acted confident, and carried myself like I was supposed
to be here. I had made it. I was in the belly of the beast, and it looked
like I had an elevator ride ahead of me. Before I could give myself a chance to think
twice about it, I quickly turned the corner, and boarded an already jam-packed elevator. After a long, quiet, and extremely tense elevator
ride, the elevator finally stops at the 4th floor, and I get off – along with a pair of fellow Domino’s Japan
corporate employees. Once off the elevator, I took another small
break to compose myself and take in my surroundings. I quickly survey the 4th floor, and am disappointed
to find only 3 things: a restroom, a sign with a Domino’s logo on
it, and a door with a keycard lock. There was no way I was getting in. Frustrated, I get back onto the elevator,
this time alone, and ride up to the 5th floor, fully expecting to encounter another locked
door and the end of my search. The elevator arrives, and I step off, and
what I see next stops me dead in my tracks. A doorway opens up into an extravagant Domino’s
Pizza Japan reception area, every inch of it decorated in Domino’s propaganda. The walls are lined with posters from various
Domino’s Japan promotions. To the left of me is a TV screen cycling through
various commercials and statistics celebrating the various successes of Domino’s Japan. To my right is a vintage Japanese Domino’s
Pizza delivery moped, adorned with the original, classic Domino’s
logo from the 1980s. But the most striking of all is what’s in
front of me, and that’s dozens and dozens of really beautiful flowers. As casually as possible, I inspect this whole
area trying to figure out what these flowers were there for, and I discover that they’re
seemingly there to celebrate Japan’s 500th Domino’s location opening up. There’s also one bouqet in particular that
catches my eye, because it has a man’s name in English: a “Mr. Josh Kilimnik,” which is
a name that I’d never encountered once in any of my research. For a second, it’s all too much, and I briefly
sit down on a nearby bench and try to take everything in. I realize that there is one last thing in
this area: which is a locked door, much like the one on the 4th floor, leading into the
Domino’s Japan headquarters. And I realize that, in spite of how far I’d
come both physically and emotionally on this journey, I’d once again hit another major
dead end. It began sinking in that I was no closer to
the answers that I’d come there all the way to Tokyo to get, and I was beginning to feel
desperate. I started to feel truly helpless, and I began
resigning myself to the fact that this was where this journey ended, and that I was never
going to find the answers to the questions I had about why they took this video off YouTube. It’s right around that time that I spot something
that I had not noticed at first: which was a corded phone on the table in front of me
– side-by-side with what appears to be a directory
of employees of Domino’s Japan. And my first thought upon seeing this is “What
use is this to me? I don’t… It’s not like I know anybody inside of Domino’s
Japan, especially anyone who speaks English!” And that’s when I realized it. There was one person person inside of Domino’s
Japan who I knew. One man who spoke English, who was fundamentally
involved in the creation of this video, and who might have the answers I needed. So, cautiously, I approached the phone, pick
up the directory, look over each and every listing on there, and and lo and behold: At the very bottom, extension #580… The CEO’s office. I gulped, and I thought about how It had happened
that I’d gotten to this point. I wondered in my head:
Was I really about to pick up the phone and call Scott, President of Domino’s Pizza? Could any of this – 
the risk, the money, the time spent, the energy – could any of this possibly be worth it to get to the bottom of where my favorite YouTube
video had gone? Hi! Uh… I’m, uh… A guest, um, visiting, uh… Mr. Oelkers? Uh, Scott… Scott Oelkers? Is he… here? “He… he’s retired. (laughter).” Oh! Okay. “Did you have an appointment?” No! No, I… I didn’t. I was, I was trying to say hello while I was
in the country. “Sorry.” “Okay.” Well, thank you so much. “Goodbye.” Bye. A bombshell. The king of Domino’s… was dead. In stunned silence, I set down the phone, I turned
around and I walked out of Domino’s Japan HQ. Outside, It had begun to rain. I opened my umbrella. At first, I wasn’t really sure how to feel
about what had just happened. I felt like my plan had failed, and that I
hadn’t been able to get a solid answer – and that I may never get a solid answer as
to why the video went down. But then, walking down the street, rain hitting
my umbrella, it dawned on me that… That was the answer. Scott’s retirement was the reason that they’d
taken the commercial down. It explained everything. I mean, think about it: what’s the first sentence out of Scott’s mouth
at the beginning of the Miku ad? “Hello everyone, I’m Scott. President of Domino’s Pizza.” ‘President of Domino’s Pizza.’ In hindsight, of course they had to take the
video down. Scott had surrendered the title of President
and CEO of Domino’s Japan, and in doing that, he had rendered the entire video an inaccurate reflection of Domino’s Japan as a corporation. They certainly couldn’t leave the video up
with a man who was no longer president claiming to be president of their company. Any corporation worth their salt would have
no choice but to take the video down. This was it! This was the answer! For the first time in a long time, I smiled. This adventure no longer felt fruitless. The challenge was successfully carried out. I finally had the answer to where the best
video on YouTube had disappeared to. And it was an answer I had to travel thousands
of miles to get. That evening, I retired to my temporary apartment,
satisfied by a job well done, and celebrated by ordering… a Domino’s Pizza. And as I tracked my order in real-time via
GPS, met my jumpsuited delivery driver at the door,
and then watched him speed away on his moped into the Tokyo rain,
I thought about everything that had transpired that day. I thought about all the events that had led
me to this point: about the video, about what made the video
so special; about the internet, and YouTube, and what
an incredible blessing it is to be alive at the same time as these things. I thought about Scott, and I thought about
Miku. And then the next day, I returned home to
America. It wasn’t until months later while working
on this video and doing a little of auxiliary research that I dug a few things up. Scott had finally updated his LinkedIn indicating
his retirement from Domino’s Japan. I thought back to that name I saw in the Domino’s
HQ lobby, Josh Kilimnik. I look into it, and I discover that in January
– the exact time frame that I visited them – Josh had just taken over for Scott as CEO
of Domino’s Japan. It turns out that that was what all those
flowers were for: that they were a parting gift from others
who’d loved Scott just as much as I did, although for… different reasons. These flowers were a show of appreciation
for all the lives that Scott had touched in his time as President and CEO of Domino’s
Pizza Japan. It occurs to me that the time that I was there was probably Scott’s last week as CEO of Domino’s Japan. I had just barely missed him. Yes, I got the answer to the question of what
had happened to the ‘Domino’s App feat. Hatsune Miku’ video,
but, more importantly, I got to be there. I got to walk the sacred halls that Scott
had walked for over a decade. I got to be there on the advent of his retirement, and in a small way – in, perhaps, an invisible
way – I got to celebrate with Scott. A career well-lived that I would never forget. Thank you, Scott. “It takes courage to accept the challenge
to make your dreams come true. Now that is a beautiful thing.”

100 thoughts on “The Domino’s ad that vanished from YouTube

  1. Made a quick follow-up video to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of this upload: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_g7x4USoxg4

  2. Haters would say that the footage from inside the plane to Tokyo is the same as on all the other flights to Japan, but what if it is coincidentally always the same plane and always the same woman, serving the hot towel in the exact same manner each time?

    I think I'm onto something here, but to find out, I have no other choice but to fly to Japan.

  3. Are you okay? You watched an advertisement every morning? Why are you this obsessed with it? Am I missing the joke?

  4. I thought this was a theory video I was gonna watch halfway and leave but………I guess there are many kinds of people in this world…….

  5. YouTube: have you watched it yet? Have you watched it yet? Have you watched it yet?
    Why am I watching a weeb complain about dominos deleting a cringy video?

  6. How can a video about a Hatsune Miku/Domino's Pizza ad be so sentimental? Geez, I almost cried in the end dude xD

  7. my mans litterally made the disappearance of a youtube video into an anime plot

    someone animate this in anime style

  8. All the disappearance of hatsune miku references are beautiful 😉 like the name and the instrumental music in the background


  10. Average person watches door stuck every day, while Nick here watches a Miku Domino's advertisement everyday.

  11. How do you get money to travel to Japan for only one day with the simple objective of finding out what happened to your favorite video?

  12. This dude is way too dramatic. Like he got overwhelmed by a bunch of flowers and a plaque so he had to sit down on a bench.

  13. the basis of all of your videos are so wacky, yet they always convey the intended emotion or reaction. how do you do it?

  14. Can’t imagine the dudes in the elevator.
    “Oh this guy must be going to meet someone here”
    “Need find the dude who took down my favorite video of the Dominos app featuring Hatsune Miku”

  15. It makes perfect sense why Dominos Japan got rid of the Hatsune Scott video. It's simply outdated. The ad served it's purpose. Other than that, I'd also think that the ad license for Hatsune Miku was up, so Dominos Japan just got rid of it since they didn't need that ad anymore.

  16. Nick: Speaking

    Me, not really paying attention: "Lalala! Having a great day!"

    Nick: "The king of Dominos is dead"

    Me: "Holy frik"

  17. Me: Oh, I guess he'll find all their contact info and do everything to get an answer

    Nick Robinson: Ya so I'm gonna go to Japan and infiltrate the building, maybe I'll get arrested in a foreign country but that's fine

  18. Some one said Scott Oelkers is dead, is that true? i can't find anything meaningful on the internet about this guy, he is one big mystery.

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