With the presidential election just around the corner, the obvious question on everyone’s mind is pepperoni, pineapple or sausage? … Ok, so maybe it’s not on everyone’s mind but it’s definitely what the people at Pizza Hut are most concerned about. Pizza Hut dared debate-goers to ask the presidential candidates if they preferred sausage or pepperoni during the town hall debate on Tuesday.
Whoever accepted the challenge would receive free pizza for life—a free pizza a week for up to 30 years. (Who wants that much pizza? As a broke college student I’m never one to turn down free food; thanks, but no thanks.) I’m sure it seemed like a good idea in theory, but to actually execute the plan left the doors wide open for anyone and everyone to mock the company. Was this plan just pure marketing genius or a shameless attempt at attention? Pizza Hut got plenty of free publicity for the challenge and got even more publicity when the company went back on its word.
Pizza Hut is now asking people engage in an online discussion about pizza toppings instead of asking President Obama and opponent Mitt Romney. The company will still honor its word of free pizza for life to one winner who votes on the sausage versus pepperoni debate.
At first thought, eh, no big deal. It was a ludicrous idea to begin with. But what does it say to customers when a company goes back on its word? You risk losing some customer loyalty which could hinder your company greatly. Maybe this time Pizza Hut got off the hot seat because it wasn’t a serious matter, but there’s a lesson here for the rest of us.
H&R Block is quickly gaining a poor reputation for going back on its word and the company doesn’t even seem like it’s aware of that. When I did a quick Google search about H&R Block complaints I got hundreds of results and complaints. One pissed off consumer titled the complaint, “THIS COMPANY DOESN’T STAND BEHIND THEIR WORD.” (Disregard the fact that it should be “its” instead of “their.”) The title is in all caps, so you know that individual is not a happy camper. At least he knows he’s not the only one, as other users shared their horror stories.
Looks like H&R Block should head back to customer service school ASAP.
Your company loses its credibility when it doesn’t follow through. It’s no different than everyday life. If you say you’re going to do something, then do it—no matter how big or small your task is. You might not be able to foresee the repercussions of not following through until it comes back to bite you.
So, Pizza Hut made a mockery of the presidential debate. Within a week it retracted the sausage versus pepperoni challenge. I’m interested to see if this shameless PR stunt hurts sales or increases them.