A consumer was using his cell phone to learn more about consumer-driven competition with the help of a Heinz QR code. The code didn’t lead to the outcome he was hoping for—an entry for a personalized ketchup bottle—it led to another vice that certainly was not appropriate for a Happy Meal with fries.

In June of 2015, a German consumer, Daniel Korell, viewed a porn website as a result of scanning an old Heinz bottle’s QR code from a competition for product design that lasted from 2012 to 2014, according to The Guardian. Heinz bought the domain name sagsmithheinz.de for the time period of the competition and not for much longer, apparently. A German adult entertainment site took over the domain name after the competition ended.

At least Korell wasn’t offended by the mistake and actually found it amusing, according to the BBC. Korell also tried using different phones to input the code manually, but it still took him to the adult entertainment website with each try. He decided to report the issue on a platform that encompasses what Pew Research Center reports as 72% of all Internet users.

“This ketchup is probably not for minors,” Korell wrote on the official Heinz Facebook page under a picture showing the ketchup bottle with the X-rated site it linked him to, according to Business Insider.

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Original image by Daniel Korrell. Retrieved from BBC Technology.

“I happened to scan it during lunch and I was a bit surprised where I got redirected to,” Korell told the BBC. “I found it rather funny and thought it was worth [sharing] on Heinz’s Facebook page.”

Heinz apologized in response to Korell’s post, and explained that the domain name was purchased by another company after the competition reached its end. In addition, Heinz extended the competition for the circumstance and offered Korell the opportunity to design a new label for them, according to AdWeek. Heinz sent Korell a new bottle of Ketchup as well, according to BBC. Numerous sources reporting on the issue received an email message apology from Heinz.

FunDorado, the adult entertainment website, did not publicly comment on the mishap, but did respond to Korell’s Facebook post about the mistake in a direct message shortly after.

“Hello Daniel Korell, wow! Has Heinz perhaps confused FunDorado’s Sexy Lila with its Lila Ketchup EZ Squirt? However, you won’t of course be going away empty handed. We’re giving you a year’s free access to FunDorado.com,” FunDorado said to Korell, according to CNN Money online.

In the end, Korell still received the opportunity he set out for and even more thanks to FunDorado’s quick purchase of the domain name. His trial of Heinz’ hot ketchup with Sriracha may have been a bit spicier than he intended, though. While Heinz took the measures it could by publicly apologizing and explaining the issue, it should probably be more careful in measuring its limited time for domain name usage for future competitions. It’s a wonder how the company managed to keep this discovery to a minimum of one infamous report on social media.

Citations:

Gibbs, Samuel. (2015). Heinz says sorry for ketchup QR code that links to porn site. The Guardian. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jun/19/heinz-ketchup-qr-code-links-porn

Kiefaber, David. (2015). Heinz Is Very Sorry for Ketchup Bottle’s QR Code That Led to a Porn Site The perils of letting a domain lapse. AdWeek. Retrieved from: http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/heinz-very-sorry-ketchup-bottles-qr-code-led-porn-site-165469

Kircher, Madison Malone. (2015) A man in Germany was surprised when the QR code on the back of his Heinz Ketchup bottle led to a porn site. Business Insider. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com/heinz-ketchup-bottle-qr-code-links-to-porn-site-2015-6

Lee, Dave. (2015). Heinz QR porn code too saucy for ketchup customer. BBC Technology. Retreived from: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33200142

Smith, Aaron. (2015). Heinz apologizes for ketchup bottle QR code linked to XXX site. CNN Money. Retrieved from: http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/19/news/companies/heinz-ketchup-porn/

Pew Research Center. (2015). Facebook Demographics, Mobile Messaging and Social Media 2015Pew Research Center. Retrieved from: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/19/mobile-messaging-and-social-media-2015/2015-08-19_social-media-update_07/