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Sunday, April 22, 2007

SOUND OFF: A SLICE OF LIFE

I've received several comments about a television commercial for Pizza Hut that offers three pizzas for $5 each. Here's how it goes: A delivery boy comes to a door to deliver the pizza, and a young man answers.

"That's only 5 bucks each, right?" he asks.

"Yes sir," the delivery boy answers.

The man runs inside and shouts. "Oh yeah! Honey, the Pizza Hut kid made the same mistake again! I got three medium Pizza Hut pizzas for the same price as those other guys!"

A reader in Laguna, Calif., writes that it makes her blood boil every time she sees this ad.

"He is so happy about the `mistake,"' she writes, "and is perfectly willing to let the pizza deliverer make up any difference."

My reader wants to know if she's being too picky. Is it OK that the man rejoices at the expense of the delivery boy? Is it OK for the advertiser to send the message that taking advantage of low-paid delivery boys should be celebrated? Or is it nothing more than a funny ad?

Send your thoughts to rightthing@nytimes.com or post them here by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below. Please include your name, your hometown as well as where you read the Sound Off question. Readers' comments may appear in an upcoming column.

You can watch the commercial at Pizza Hut Commercial "Mistake" 3 for $5 with Erich Bergen.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of "The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business" (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of http://www.jeffreyseglin.com, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@nytimes.com or to "The Right Thing," New York Times Syndicate, 609 Greenwich St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10014-3610.

13 comments:

Chris said...

I think the writer is missing the point. Although I haven't seen the commercial, it sounds like it's the man at home that's a bit dense. He thinks he's conning the system when in fact everyone gets the three pizzas for $15.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to explain this is a commercial. It is pretend. Not real life. Nothing to make blood boil. The commercial is not really that funny, and the only messager being sent by the advertiser is 3 pizzas for $15

Anonymous said...

Ive seen this commercial and simply see it as a commercial with no real impact accept to say that you can get 3 pizzas for $15. The commercial that shows a father giving a daughter a blue car from Carmax for her birthday, then she cries out in anger, "But I asked for a red one". This is the commercial that boils my blood, because it shows the control of a spoil brat in an effort to talk bout the easy return of Carmax.

Anonymous said...

I have found the commercial annoying (but not blood-boiling), so I don’t see it as funny at all. I suppose when young children see it, a good parent (if present) can seize the opportunity to say how cheating (or even proudly thinking you have cheated - even when you haven’t) is a bad thing. Older children and adults will just see the pizza-buyer as a simpleton, and, in this day and age where TV shows and commercials are ever-edgier, it’s no big deal. I’m with the girl from Ipa Nima (whoops, Laguna) in that it’s another sign of the country’s downhill slide. Not that she said that, of course, but I’m sure she believes it. What is her name and phone number, BTW? :<)

Incidentally, I have seen that ad quite a few times, but until I reread your e-mail, I couldn’t have told you who the pizza company was. Since I am not a patron of Pizza Hut, I couldn’t boycott them if I wanted to. Nuts!

Phil Clutts
Harrisburg, NC

Anonymous said...

Mr. Seglin and NY Times,It goes along with everything in the world today. everyone one wants something for nothing and doesn't care what it costs anyone else.Nice thing to teach our youth ,huh?


Peg N. Hardin

Anonymous said...

I think it is very sad that corporate America thinks that this "dumb guy rejoicing in the steal" is funny. And presumably consumers are "eating it up" as well. it is sad because:

1. it shows the man as stupid;

2. it shows cheating in a positive light, and;

3. It makes America seem ... well shallow, callow, materialistic ... oh, sorry we are. My bad.

Oh-- I am not fond of al the other "dumb guy" ads either. If women were being shown in the same bad light we'd hear screaming from women's groups...

E. Carroll Straus
Attorney, Counselor, and Healer at Law

Anonymous said...

Stealing and cheating is funny????? I think this ad is annoying. The man is so proud of himself. This is not the message we should be teaching children. As far as using this as an opportunity, parents don't always have time to check out every commercial their children see. I would love to see more commercials showing us in a kinder more honest light.
Susan

Anonymous said...

If your children are learning life lessons such as "not stealing" and "being honest" through commercials/TV then you are in big trouble. It's just a commercial, meant to be funny and to show that Pizza Hut has a great deal, you people are overthinking it.

Anonymous said...

Haters! Pizza Hut rocks and so does the guy in the commercial, why don't you talk about other things that are going on in this world, important things, like Paris Hilton being free.

Anonymous said...

In response to the last comment, all of us who live on the West coast do think that Paris being free is very important. We look up to Paris and her family. They are the perfect California parents who spoil their kids, and show them maturity is NOT a goal worth achieving in one's lifetime. Now you compare her to the young man in the commercial who probably is struggling to make a living, but appears to be a good actor since he was able to "stir" things up, make us question the message, and then cause us to take the time to comment to a brainless computer.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see our leaders in Washington showing us in a kinder, gentler light. Perhaps when Mr. Dick Cheney eliminates the "f" word from his vocabulary around the office and President Bush starts thinking before using phrases such as: "smoke 'em outta their holes", "you're either for us or against us", and "bring 'em on", perhaps THEN I will begin to consider to what degree of offense I rate the Pizza Hut commercial. I consider the President of the United States to be a much larger role model for my children than the Pizza Hut guy and Mr. Bush seems to let them down at every nationally televised speaking engagement. Unfortunately HE'S not trying to be funny.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Oh, please! It is just a commercial. and in my opinion; a very funny one. It plays on the naive "man of the house" who just doesn't realize that everyone is getting the same deal and is a way of Pizza Hut's saying thank you to their customers for past patronage. And you know, other pizza companies have offered the same deal to their customers.

pizza lover in
midland, tx