It’s kind of funny to think of standing up at the presidential town hall debate tomorrow night and winning some free pizza by distracting the nation with the ridiculous question, “Sausage or pepperoni?”
Not as potentially insightful as the classic “Boxers or briefs?” question, but still: you can imagine the Pizza Hut creative team high-fiving each other on the insidious cleverness of the idea.
Then they got made fun of.
By none other than maker-funner-in-chief Stephen Colbert.
So today Pizza Hut CMO Kurt Kane decided people shouldn’t perform this stunt after all, but rather answer the question online. Instead of admitting this got way more bad reactions that anticipated, he pretended it was a noble retrenchment, in kinda weaselly manner, claiming:
The anticipation and buzz around this question proves that this debate should be taken to the people. We’re no longer asking a few hundred attendees at the town hall presidential debate on Oct. 16 to pose the question, rather we’re bringing the question – Sausage or Pepperoni? – to millions of Americans.”
I think what we see here is the way marketing now tries to get people to play with them and provide “branded talk value”—which is new territory, evolving from two disparate arms: “p.r. types,” where the practitioners had a good sense of what would or wouldn’t be a good idea when playing with the fire of mainstream media, and “ad dudes and dudettes,” who are pledged by disposition to push, push, push the comfort level of their client until they’re delivering “edgy” work. Edgy work sometimes gets you in big trouble in the media.
So Nation, remember: don’t derail the democratic process with your frivolous pizza lust. Got it? That’s the new plan.