Pizza Hut has quietly pulled online advertising for its Mitey Stuffed Crust pizza following complaints from Vegemite owner Kraft. The offending advert depicted foreign backpackers retching in disgust at the taste of the new product. The "takeaway" lesson here is that you probably shouldn't publicly insult your business partner -- even if it's just a joke.
Last week, Pizza Hut launched the Mitey Stuffed Crust pizza; a cheese-filled crust infused with Australia’s favourite breakfast spread. It's a surprisingly tasty flavour combination that was the perfect Australia Day indulgence.
The accompanying advert attempted to poke fun at Vegemite's gruesome reputation among non-Australians:
Needless to say, Kraft wasn't too happy about this and the advert has since been pulled from all official channels. While it's easy to lambaste Kraft for having no sense of humour, it's perfectly reasonable for a company to protect the reputation of its brand. (Presumably Pizza Hut would react similarly if one of its partners poked fun at the shrinking size of its pizzas, for example.)
Kraft also took exception to the Mitey Stuffed Crust's logo which was deemed too similar to Vegemite's. Apparently, Kraft had not given Pizza Hut permission to explicitly reference Vegemite. (Indeed, the word "Vegemite" doesn't actually appear in the campaign materials.)
In addition to pulling its adverts, Pizza Hut has also modified the Mitey Stuffed Crust branding on its website. The pizza is still available to order, however.
While we understand Kraft's decision, it does point out the ridiculous nature of the contract. Not being allowed to mention Vegemite while advertising an official Vegemite pizza just seems bonkers.