Blimp Blooper Grounds Promo By Pizza Hut

ATLANTA – The blimp crash in New York City last week knocked the air out of Pizza Hut’s Big Foot promotion.
The blimp, last seen deflated and draped over a Hell’s Kitchen apartment house where it descended, was supposed to have continued on its 19-city tour, but though the crew of the blimp escaped with only minor injuries, the blimp-ride part of the promotion did not survive.
New York was the 10th stop in the tour, which promoted the pizza delivery company’s new extra-large pizza. The blimp, which was on three-month lease, was to make promotional flights in Washington D.C.; Norfolk, Va.; Atlanta; Jacksonville, Fla.; New Orleans; Houston; Nashville, Tenn.; and Cincinnati. The New York flight was this particular blimp’s maiden tour.
In Atlanta, the contest had offered a blimp ride over a Braves game, a Big Foot Pizza and a Big Foot T-shirt. The new grand prize is a year’s supply of Big Foot Pizzas (one a month), two Braves tickets and two Big Foot T-shirts. The 10 runners-up still get a Big Foot Pizza and two Big Foot T-shirts. The ads were pulled after the blimp crash, although the rest of the promotion continues.
‘Customers can still win everything but the blimp ride,’ said Turner Broadcasting spokesperson Gary McKillips.
Pizza Hut will not be reinflating the blimp promotion because no back-up blimp is immediately available. ‘There are only 10 blimps in the U.S,’ said Rob Doughty, vp/marketing communications for Pizza Hut. ‘You can’t just go to the blimp store and buy another one.’
As to the effect of the crash on Pizza Hut’s sales, the company isn’t worried. ‘At the very worst it is probably neutral in its effect on our image,’ said Doughty. ‘At best it probably raises brand awareness.’
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)