After using a smartphone to scan the code, which was meant to provide information about a promotional campaign that offered personalised ketchup bottle labels, Daniel Korell was sent to a German adult site rather than a Heinz-run page.
Heinz has apologized to the customer after a QR code on one of its tomato ketchup bottles linked to a porn site.
“We really regret the incident,” a Heinz representative said on Facebook, offering to send Korell a personalized ketchup bottle as compensation.
The QR code linked to a URL used for the “Spread the word with Heinz” competition between 2012 and 2014. Heinz allowed the domain name “sagsmithheinz.de” to lapse after the competition closed, which was subsequently purchased by a supplier of German adult entertainment.
“The bottle may be a remnant, but it is certainly still present in many households,” Korell told Heinz. “It is incomprehensible that you cannot secure the domain for at least one or two years. A .com domain really does not cost the world.”
Heinz said that it would rectify future issues revolving around temporary brand extensions online. The pornography site also offered Korell a free subscription to its service. So it wasn’t all that bad after all!
This Ain’t The First
Heinz is not the first to forget to renew a domain name with embarrassing consequences. Sony allowed its online entertainment domain SOE.com to expire, taking down the service last year.
After the FBI’s seizure of the Megaupload.com domain from Kim Dotcom, it began serving pornography, drugs and malware after it expired while still being controlled by the US government.
All cases show that brand control on the internet is very important and that a web domain is for life, not just for Christmas, or a short-term competition that is likely to come back to haunt you.