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Pizza Hut Ad About Condemned Man Won’t Run Anymore in South Carolina

January 24, 1985 GMT

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) _ A Pizza Hut commercial portraying a condemned man eating pizza as a last meal won’t be shown again in South Carolina, where two weeks ago a prisoner ordered pizza before dying in the electric chair, an official said Wednesday.

At least four people from the state, including one who pointed out that Joseph Carl Shaw ordered a pizza as his last meal, have complained to Pizza Hut, said Mike Jenkins, director of public relations at the Wichita, Kan.- based company.

The situation was ″a real, real classic case of somebody sending the wrong commercial at the wrong time to the wrong market,″ Jenkins said.

Shaw was executed Jan. 11, the first prisoner to die in the South Carolina’s electric chair since 1962. Shaw ordered pizza as his last meal, but it was made by a family-owned restaurant in Columbia, not Pizza Hut, said Hal Leslie, spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

Spartanburg TV station WSPA showed the commercial Tuesday night, and a spokesman for the station said they received a letter protesting the advertisement Wednesday.

The commercial should never have run in South Carolina because the regional company that chooses Pizza Hut advertising for area stations did not pick the condemned prisoner spot, Jenkins said. The commercial was not popular with many advertising contractors and it was sent to WSPA-TV by mistake, he said.

″It was run by two TV stations by mistake,″ he said. ″It was not scheduled to be run by those television stations. They had the wrong commercial. It was simply not meant to run.″

The commercial portrays a condemned man ordering a Pizza Hut pizza as his last meal. He is pardoned at the last minute, but he does not want to give up his pizza.

There have been complaints about the commercial in other areas of the country, although few stations around the nation have shown it, Jenkins said.

The complaints ″have run the gamut from people who say it looks like we’re rewarding criminals, to people who simply say that we could make our point in a better manner than to use an issue like capital punishment that is as sensitive as it is today,″ Jenkins said.

Pizza Hut probably will pull the commercial from all markets, Jenkins said.