SocialSocial MediaPizza Hut Australia Pulls Vegemite Ad in PR Blunder

Pizza Hut Australia Pulls Vegemite Ad in PR Blunder

Pizza Hut has pulled a YouTube ad after failing to gain approval from Kraft for its Australia Day Vegemite and cheese stuffed crust pizza promotion.

An Australian Pizza Hut ad has been deemed a public relations failure after a YouTube video promoting a Vegemite and cheese stuffed crust was pulled for legal reasons.

The video showing the “mitey stuffed crust” shows international tourists at a backpacker hostel in Sydney tasting a pizza crust containing the iconic Australian breakfast spread. However just five days after its release on YouTube, the ad was removed due to Vegemite’s trademark owner Kraft not giving Pizza Hut permission to use its much-loved brand.  

The short clip generated more than 80,000 views in the first 48 hours of the launch, designed to coincide with the Australian national day on January 26. The official version was removed the day before Australia Day but can still be widely viewed across the web.

Despite its removal, the video ad had been praised for its creative content, which uses foreigners’ negative perceptions of Vegemite to reinforce a uniquely Australian taste.

“That’s disgusting,” says a backpacker from the Netherlands. “Horrible,” says another from Spain. A traveller from Germany asks: “Is it s***?” The clip ends with two Australians enjoying the pizza and suggesting it should be eaten for breakfast.

“It’s a brilliant idea, it’s very appropriate for Australia Day and a celebration of the maverick, quirky national character of Australians,” says David Ko, managing director at digital agency Daylight Partnership. “Except they made a very fundamental error in execution, which is to clear any potential copyright issues – that’s just content 101 and I’m surprised they missed it.”

Industry commentators say consumer perceptions of Pizza Hut and its products are unlikely to have changed substantially – and if anything may have been strengthened as a result of its actions.

“But with visibility comes responsibility,” says Charlie Pownall, a communications advisor based in Hong Kong.

“There is a pervasive culture that says that trademarks, copyright or other IP can be used and abused more or less with impunity online,” he says. “In truth social media is regulated as much as any other media.”

Kraft’s parent company in Australia, Mondelez International and Pizza Hut Australia did not respond to requests for comment.

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