Corporate Law

2 Pizza Workers, Via YouTube, Allegedly Put Brand at Risk, Now Face Charges

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It was just a stupid prank, apparently, rather than a video of actual food preparation. But a clip obviously intended to provoke an “Oh, gross!” response reportedly did just that after it was posted on YouTube—viewed approximately a million times—and became the subject of extensive comments on Twitter.

Now the Domino’s Pizza workers allegedly responsible for filming the clip and a series of others in a restaurant kitchen in Conover, N.C., are facing criminal charges, and the company is scrambling to counteract the damage the adverse publicity has done to its brand name, reports the New York Times. The videos can be viewed on the blog, Good As You, which has been collecting the videos.

The restaurant in which the prank was filmed was identified via the video itself, leading authorities to the alleged culprits. The company intends to review its hiring practices and the restaurant concerned has been thoroughly cleaned, according to media reports.

After initially trying to ignore the viral spread of the video, officials finally realized they needed to go online themselves to counteract it. Eventually, they put their own side of the story on both YouTube and Twitter.

“We got blindsided by two idiots with a video camera and an awful idea,” Domino’s spokesman Tim McIntyre tells the newspaper. “Even people who’ve been with us as loyal customers for 10, 15, 20 years, people are second-guessing their relationship with Domino’s, and that’s not fair.”

He says the company plans to file a civil action, although the article doesn’t say against whom or on what basis.

Alleged culprits and ex-Domino’s employees Michael Anthony Setzer, 32, and Kristy Lynn Hammonds, 31, made their first court appearance today in the food-tampering case, reports the Hickory Daily Record.

If convicted, they could face jail time, said Judge Gary Dellinger. A probable cause hearing is scheduled for May 8.

Additional coverage:

ABC News: “Domino’s Employee Video Taints Food and Brand”

Advertising Age (April 14): “Domino’s Reacts Cautiously, Quietly to YouTube Gross-Out Video”

Advertising Age (April 15): “Domino’s Posts Apology Video on YouTube”

Sydney Morning Herald: “Digging up dirt: Facebook spies for hire”

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