Ketchup maker teaches marketers the importance of a domain name

A QR code on a bottle of ketchup leads a man to a website with... porn! No cybersquatting or hacking here, but inexcusable negligence!

When a promo site becomes a porn site…

German customer Daniel Korrell will not soon forget what happened to him. On a bottle of Heinz ketchup, he found an appealing special offer: by scanning the QR code on the label, he would be able to order a personalised ketchup bottle via a special website. And that is exactly what the poor man did... just before – much to his surprise – he landed on a website with porn! Daniel indeed went for “Hot” Tomato Ketchup, but this was definitely hotter than he expected!

What exactly happened? Heinz had registered a domain name for this promo campaign: The campaign ran from 2012 to 2014, and the domain name expired in 2015. Heinz then forgot to renew the domain name, while the owner of Fundorado (a German porn portal) was smart enough to register the domain name and post hot pictures on the site.

Daniel was shocked and posted a complaint on Heinz’s Facebook page: “Your ketchup is probably not for minors”. Heinz apologised and offered Daniel to make a custom-designed bottle of ketchup. But Fundorado jumped in on the apology and offered Daniel a free membership to its site, in order to attract the attention of the public!

Domain renewal is paramount

From hot ketchup to hot websites – this embarrassing mishap could have been avoided quite easily. It is even inconceivable that Heinz did not renew this domain name, in order to redirect visitors (using a 301 redirect) to Heinz’s main website – especially when you know that it costs only a few tenners to renew a domain name!

The lesson to be learnt here is that we cannot stress enough the importance of a domain name. If you created a special website for a special promo campaign, you should also keep that domain name afterwards!