MEDIA WATCH: New Pizza Hut ad leaves bad taste in Hillary’s mouth

Pizza Hut’s new TV commercial lampooning Hillary Clinton as a carpetbagger has left the first lady with a bad taste in her mouth. Billed by the media as the first ’campaign’ ad in the New York senate race, the new commercial features a blonde woman with a Southern accent, pitching the ’cheesy’ virtues of the Big New Yorker pizza.

Pizza Hut’s new TV commercial lampooning Hillary Clinton as a carpetbagger has left the first lady with a bad taste in her mouth. Billed by the media as the first ’campaign’ ad in the New York senate race, the new commercial features a blonde woman with a Southern accent, pitching the ’cheesy’ virtues of the Big New Yorker pizza.

Pizza Hut’s new TV commercial lampooning Hillary Clinton as a

carpetbagger has left the first lady with a bad taste in her mouth.

Billed by the media as the first ’campaign’ ad in the New York senate

race, the new commercial features a blonde woman with a Southern accent,

pitching the ’cheesy’ virtues of the Big New Yorker pizza.



The ad appeared straightforward until the New York Daily News and New

York 1 - the city’s all-news cable channel - reported that Pizza Hut and

its parent corporation, Tricon Global, have ties to Hillary’s almost

certain electoral opponent, New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (October

22). CARMA’s examination of the ensuing media coverage surrounding the

Pizza Hut ad revealed that, although the commercial’s impact on the

election may be minimal, it might signal the beginning of a new trend of

political campaigning.



Vocal Democratic supporters immediately labeled the spot a case of

political favoritism disguised as a pizza ad. Jim Jordan of the

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee remarked, ’the commercial is

unambiguously derisive and nasty ... it was clearly designed to boost

the Giuliani campaign’ (Dallas Morning News, October 23). Political

strategist James Carville ordered White House employees not to order

from Pizza Hut anymore, adding ’giving up Pizza Hut is the culinary

equivalent of giving up Brussels sprouts for Lent’ (Washington Post,

October 26).



Pizza Hut officials were put on the defensive and played down the ad as

merely a ’spoof.’ Tricon senior VP Jonathan Blum advised Democrats to

lighten up, saying the campaign was planned in fun: ’This is all about

pizza, not politics’ (New York Daily News, October 22). However the

Boston Globe (October 23) accused the company of ’unashamedly play(ing)

up the politics’ by pointing out that the news release headlining the

commercial was titled ’Who Will Be the Next US Senator from New

York?’



Clinton’s opponents naturally saw the more humorous side of the ad. ’The

Pizza Hut commercial clearly plays on the most common criticism against

her - that she’s a carpetbagger who has never lived in New York,’

claimed reporter Fred Kaplan (The Hotline, October 25). Steven Law,

director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, noted that the

ad was part of a 10-month-old promotion that has featured commercial

cameos by New Yorkers Donald Trump, Fran Drescher and Spike Lee.



Media analysts, such as Scott Donaton from Advertising Age, said the

commercial was already a success before it had been aired, since it was

sufficiently provocative to generate tons of free publicity. And NBC’s

Today show (October 25) called the ad a ’two-fer’ - an attack pizza

ad.



Political experts agreed that the commercial would not sway enough

voters to affect the Senate race. For one thing, they noted, the

election is a year away and already the race is too polarized. And

although political purists may object to Pizza Hut’s tactics, there is

nothing in the election laws to stop this from happening again. The

Pizza Hut ad seemingly has left the door open for endless possibilities

of commercials selling products and harming politicians at the same

time.



- Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Media Watch can be

found at www.carma.com.



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