Sunday, May 27, 2007


In an ad in which a Pizza Hut delivery boy delivers three pizzas for $5 each, a young man relishes what he thinks is the delivery boy's mistake. I asked readers if they thought it was OK to send the message that taking advantage of a low-paid delivery boy should be celebrated, whether that message was inappropriate or whether it was simply a funny ad without any particular message.

The unanimous verdict from my readers is that the ad is not that funny. Many thought, however, that it would be a mistake to make too much out of its message.

The most positive spin on it came from Phil Clutts of Harrisburg, N.C., who writes: "A good parent could seize the opportunity to say how cheating is a bad thing."

Like many other readers, Clutts also observes: "Older children and adults will just see the pizza-buyer as a simpleton."

Tilly Alldredge of Laguna Niguel, Calif., saw the ad and her blood boiled.

"I never order pizza," Alldredge writes, "but if I did, I'd go elsewhere."

Check out other opinions at or post your own by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below.

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, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.


Anonymous said...

I read about this in the Orange County Register, and frankly the ad infuriates me. Why anyone would attept to glorify cheating and stealing in a society already so fast and loose with its morals is beyond me. Is it a reflection of the "It's okay so long as I don't get caught" attitude that any ad agency would think this was an appropriate way to go about things? When I first saw the advertisement on TV, I immediatley remakred to my husband what a terrible ad it was, and he agreed.

I'm glad someone is bringing this up to the world at large as an instance of advertising agencies thinking first with their wallets and not with their brains.

Anonymous said...

I honestly can't bring myself to get too worked up over it. I saw it as naieve foolishness on the part of the customer, which I'm sure the aim of the ad was, just like the earlier version of the theme where Donald Trump unwittingly "Bargains" his way to the same deal. Perhaps the foolishness in this instance is underhanded, but we're supposed to laugh at the ignorant customers- Pizza Hut never insinuated we should be emulating them.