Pizza Hut Korea outsmarts IOC with controversial sales promotion
Organising committee has not taken any action against the company’s use of ‘pyengchang’ which means inflation or expansion
By Yi Whan-woo
With the International Olympic Committee (IOC) getting tougher on unauthorised Olympic marketing, Pizza Hut Korea is outsmarting the IOC by playing on words in the South Korea’s Winter Games host city.
The company is running a sales promotion, titled “Pyengchang together,” during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, offering a cheese topping and a 1.25-liter Pepsi for free if customers buy premium pizzas.
Literally meaning “inflation” or “expansion,” the choice of the word “pyengchang” for the sales campaign comes after the organizing committee asked South Korean companies — Kakao Talk, SK Telecom and Shinsegae Department Store — to refrain from alleged ambush marketing. This refers to attempts to piggy-back on the marketing hype surrounding international events, such as the Olympics and FIFA World Cup, without paying millions to be official sponsors.
Pizza Hut Korea and all three Korean firms are not official sponsors of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
A Pizza Hut Korea official said the “Pyengchang together” campaign aims to offer diverse benefits to customers during the summer season and “has nothing do with the Olympics whatsoever.”
The organising committee said it has not taken any action against Pizza Hut Korea because it remains uncertain whether the disputed sales campaign should be viewed as ambush marketing.
“Using pyengchang is seen as no big deal as long as Olympic symbols and emblems are not used without authorisation,” a PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games official said.
The word was previously used by the online shopping mall, Wemakeprice, in its sales promotion of long padded coats.
The promotion came after official long down winter jackets of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics struck a chord with consumers for their high quality and affordable prices.
The online shopping mall promoted its products as “Pengchang long padded coats.” It later acknowledged such a campaign could be problematic and promised to revise its marketing guidelines to avoid disputes in the future.