Pizza Hut was forced to pull ads for its Australia Day tie-in invention, the “Mitey stuffed crust” pizza. This slightly dubious crust creation features a ‘black gold’ filling of mozzarella and Vegemite, which was variously described as tasting like ‘medicine’, ‘petrol’, and ‘fish jam’ by the hapless backpackers who featured in the campaign commercial. But even as that oozing concoction was turning foreign stomachs, Pizza Hut’s suspiciously-styled promo logo had heads turning in the Vegemite corporate camp.
The original ads featured the creatively-spelled (and clearly inferential) ‘Mitey’ in curved, white, shadowed, capitals on a familiar soft-point diamond background.
While they may have been brimming with national pride, these ads were also arguably infringing on intellectual property rights in the Vegemite logo and name, both owned by Mondelez International. Given the makers of Vegemite reportedly did not give permission for the classic brand to be used in or associated with the promo campaign, there is also the potential that the ads may have run afoul of the prohibitions in the Australian Consumer Law against misleading representations about the sponsorship or approval of goods.
A statement released by Pizza Hut said, succinctly: “For legal reasons, Pizza Hut is currently reviewing all imagery relating to the promotion of the Mitey Stuffed Crust Pizza.”
The pizza is still available to order but ads have been pulled across most platforms and the on-site promo has axed the diamond and now just coyly alludes to a stuffing of “Australia’s favourite spread.”
In the end, this is a timely reminder that clever referencing and allusions in advertising may get positive reactions from consumers, but also may run the risk of inciting negative reactions from the people who own the thing you’re referencing.
If you’re worried about the possibility of getting stuffed-over by claims of misleading and deceptive conduct or trademark or copy right infringement, feel free to give the experts in our KHQ Approved team a call – they eat this stuff for breakfast, lunch, and tea!