Pizza Hut is rethinking its contest daring people to ask “Sausage or Pepperoni?” at the presidential debate Tuesday.
After the stunt triggered backlash last week, the company says it’s moving the promotion online, where a contestant will be randomly selected to win free pizza for life.
The pizza delivery chain had offered the prize — a pie a week for 30 years or a check for $15,600 — to anyone who posed the question to either President Barack Obama or Republican candidate Mitt Romney during the live Town Hall-style debate.
But blogs and media outlets immediately took the pizza delivery chain to task for trying to capitalize on the election buzz by injecting itself into the process.
Pizza Hut spokesman Doug Terfehr said the majority of the feedback the company has seen has been very positive. He said that moving the contest online was a “natural progression of the campaign” after people got excited about the idea and “wished they could get in on it.”
Pizza Hut, a unit of Yum Brands Inc., says it will still honor the prize if someone poses the question live at the debate. But it’s encouraging everyone to participate in the new online version, where contestants must enter their email addresses and zip codes to be eligible. The company will award two prizes if someone does ask the question.
The change comes after Pizza Hut’s stunt became the butt of jokes last week.
In a segment on Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report,” host Stephen Colbert asked, “What could be more American than using our electoral process for product placement?”
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