Pizza Hut Debate Fail

One of the best articles I’ve read in a while from USA Today writer Bruce Horovitz on a failed Pizza Hut PR stunt:

Less than one week ago, the pizza chain was on a presidential PR high. It created a stunt to convince attendees at tonight’s Town Hall presidential debate, to ask President Obama and Mitt Romney if they preferred sausage or pepperoni on their pizza. Anyone who posed the question was guaranteed free pizza for life. That’s a free pizza a week for up to 30 years.

But Pizza Hut has changed its tune following negative PR on blogs and in the media. “Some of the attention we received was not positive,” says Kurt Kane, chief marketing officer. “We decided the question was better served online than in the debate itself.”

Oops. Pizza Hut is not the first to have a PR stunt go awry.

—BMW had to apologize this year after an offer to pay for naming rights to a weather system backfired when the system turned into a deep freeze that claimed lives across Europe.

—When rapper MGK performed at a Microsoft store in Orlando, employees urged him to stop when he began destroying laptops .

Now, Pizza Hut is, asking consumers to go online to discuss the pizza topping question – and it’s no longer urging debate-goers to ask the question. PR and brand experts say Pizza Hut created its own PR mess.

“What a stupid idea,” says Peter Madden, CEO of AgileCat, a brand consultancy. “It seems like a thoughtless grab for a little bit of attention.”

Read the full story here.

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