Weekly Hot Takes: Brand Missteps

4 min read
July 15, 2018

weekly hot takes

We're keeping it simple this week, talking about the downfall of the former-CEO, former Chairman of Papa John's, how Build-a-Bear's "Pay Your Age" sale was a something of a catastrophe, and how Amazon has developed a sure-fire win with Prime Day.



All It Takes Is Two Mistakes
Recently, it came out that during a PR strategy call, former-CEO and fonder of Papa John's, John Schnatter, used the n-word. As to be expected, it didn't exactly go well for him. The company he was on the call with eventually cut ties and as of this story blowing up this week, Schnatter had to step down as Chairman of the Board. But, in case you feel like this is deja vu, this is because Schnatter had to step down as CEO of the company only a short time ago in December. You would have thought that he'd have learned his lesson, right? 


Now, the more interesting thing of note to me is the efforts of the new CEO to separate the company from Schnatter, as he rightly should. Every time an incident has happened, it has affected the profit and stock of the company. There are sports teams suspending business relationships and ending sponsorships, and the company is looking towards a way to market the brand without having Schnatter on their marketing materials. And all of these steps make sense. One situation is enough of an incident, two is a habit and the higher ups at Papa John's would not want to be considered that racist pizza place anymore than it already.


I think there'll be a lot of work to do to turn this around, especially with Schnatter saying things like he said it, but it "wasn't a slur" or that he was pressured into saying it -- because either of those excuses make sense, right?

Flash Deal Danger
Build-A-Bear had a sale earlier this week. For one day only, if you bring your child in, the price of the bear you get is the age of the child, starting at $1. If you've ever been inside a Build-a-Bear, you'll know that the bears themselves can be from around $15 to a lot more, so it's essentially a steal. So of course mass amounts of people showed up as they heard about it, waiting in line for 8 hours or more just to get one, some being turned away. A person or two might have skipped the line and angered others, people likely got impatient with the staff for having to wait so long and maybe nastier for being turned away, and I had to wonder if this could have been avoided. 


I do think that it could have. With better crowd control so that the lines outside the store would have had less of an effect on other parts of the malls, that would have been an improvement. Taking into account that, whatever numbers you expected based on previous years, there's always a chance for a larger crowd, especially with the increase in social media use, and having stores staffed appropriately. Having some kind of system to get customers in and out of the store effeciently (without rushing them) so that you can serve more customers also could have helped. 


Customers that were turned away were given $15 vouchers, but I do wonder if that will be enough for them to overcome their disappointment with how the day was handled to return. Especially if that voucher doesn't come close to the savings they could have actually received if the sale had been planned for better.


In other news, Chuck E Cheese apparently made a Pay Your Age offer for this past Friday (the day after Buld-a-Bear's fiasco), attempting to directly capitalize on people's disappointment. I assume it went without any major setbacks.

Prime Day
Tomorrow, July 16th, is Prime Day.


People talk about Amazon's Prime Day like it's a holiday, or at least like it's a major sale. Want to buy a specific thing? "Wait for Prime Day." It reminds me of how people used to talk about Black Friday to a certain extent. Of course, Prime Day is something that can happen any day of the year and generally tends to happen more than once.


The thing that fascinates me is that I ended up telling myself that, too. That if there's something I want, wait until Monday to see if there's a good deal and then buy it. It says a lot about Amazon to me, about their brand and about how over time they've built themselves up to be the best online retailer of them all. They continue to add things into their wheelhouse and I feel as though, right now, they're pretty untouchable. 


Now, for the million dollar question: are you shopping for Prime Day?




What did you notice or have thoughts on this week? Comment below.


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