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Now that the second presidential debate is over, it seems we can all agree that Pizza Hut’s decision to scale back its widely criticized publicity stunt was a very wise move. In case you missed it, Pizza Hut had previously decided to offer a 30-year supply of pizza (or a check for $15,600) to anyone willing to ask the age-old question, “Sausage or Pepperoni?” at the town hall-style debate. On the day of Pizza Hut’s announcement, The EGC Group’s social media pundits investigated public opinion regarding the “Pizza Hut Debate” and found these results:

Roughly half of the socially-active U.S. population was opposed to the stunt, while only 9% supported it. Clearly, a large majority of people were angry about Pizza Hut trying to use the national political stage to further their own selfish cause. This reaction turned out to be an excellent demonstration of how social media can change the direction of an ad campaign. Although marketers have the freedom to take many risks, they are always at the mercy of their consumers. Hubris can often be a valuable trait for a marketer to have, but it certainly has its limits.

Pizza Hut responded to the public outcry by saying that it would still honor the prize if someone posed the question live, but also encouraged everyone to participate in the new online version. After witnessing the thoughtful and often pointed questions posed by the audience at last night’s debate, we can all agree that Pizza Hut’s softball would have fallen short.

Written by Justin Lashley, Business Development Manager