Marketing fail: Heinz QR codes accidentally link to ‘saucy’ porn site

Digital marketing industry case study library

In a stark warning to brands with too many untracked website domains, Heinz was left embarrassed after a QR code on bottles of Ketchup linked to a hardcore porn site in Germany.

heinz%20qr%20fail.jpg

Back in 2012, Heinz ran a special promotion on bottles in Germany with a QR code letting consumers design their own label.

They invited their customers to design their own labels, which users could submit on the contest website.

A QR code gave would-be entrants a convenient way to pull up the site on their mobile devices.

The contest ended in 2014, but there are still plenty of the coded bottles in German fridges and pantries.

After the promotion ended, German porn site Fundorado jumped into the gap and registered Heinz's former address for itself, meaning that Heinz's defunct shortcut now pointed to a page full of graphic thumbnail images linking to porn videos.

The error was spotted by customer Daniel K. who recently scanned the QR-code on his Heinz ketchup bottle, expecting to join in a promotion allowing him to design his own label- but he got more than he bargained for.

A shocked Daniel promptly turned to Heinz's Facebook page to point out the mixup.

"Your ketchup really isn't for under-age people. Even if the bottle was a leftover, it's still in lots of households," he wrote in a Facebook post.

Heinz has apologised to the consumer on Facebook and said: "We really regret the event very much and we're happy to take your suggestions for how we implement future campaigns on board."

To say sorry, they offered to let Daniel create his own label and send him a free bottle of ketchup printed with his design.

heinz%20qr%20fail2.jpg

Fundorado chimed in to suggest that Heinz had confused their "Hot Pink" porn website with the condiment producer's "Pink EZ Squirt" ketchup. The porn portal had also offered Daniel free membership to the site.

It is unclear how many bottles were printed with the QR code and whether they are still for sale.

A spokesman for Heinz said: "Heinz in Germany has apologised for the way in which an out of date QR code and website link to design a Ketchup label in 2014 has been reassigned to an adult content site. Clearly this was never our intention and we are taking steps to avoid this reoccurring."

Copyright ©2000-2019 Digital Strategy Consulting Limited | All rights reserved | This material is for your personal use only | Using this site constitutes acceptance of our user agreement and privacy policy