Digital Strategy

Strategy quick-take: How Pawngo misplaced its Butterfingers

This past Tuesday, Pawngo, a Denver-based online pawn shop, bought more than 7,000 Butterfinger candy bars (pictured) and left them in Boston’s Copley Square, along with a sarcastic thank-you note to the Patriots’ Wes Welker. (You may remember Welker as the Pats player who dropped a key fourth-quarter pass.)

Now I’m a big Giants fan. I enjoy when Boston teams get made fun of, especially on their home turf. But there are two main reasons why Pawngo’s marketing stunt didn’t work for me:

  • It was timely, but overwhelmingly negative. Rubbing salt in an open wound is not the way to win over new customers, period, especially angry Bostonians.
  • Welker isn’t the only player to blame for the loss; Tom Brady and the Pats only scored seven second-half points. Not to mention there were a few other dropped passes.

Here’s the thing: I actually like the idea, which came courtesy of 5W Public Relations. I just would’ve done one thing differently: instead of dropping the Butterfinger bars in Boston, put ’em in New York by the “Canyon of Heroes” during the Giants Super Bowl parade.

Why? The buzz would’ve been much more positive, and Pawngo could’ve won over more than a few New York-area customers, instead of potentially alienating all of Boston. This could’ve driven plenty of buzz for Butterfinger as well, which vehemently denied any involvement in the stunt. Heck, if it were done in New York, Butterfinger could’ve even owned it, instead of Pawngo. (Or at least they may have given Pawngo the candy bars, free of charge.)

What would YOU have done differently?

By danielhonigman

Daniel Honigman is a Chicago-based digital strategist

7 replies on “Strategy quick-take: How Pawngo misplaced its Butterfingers”

I don’t know about appeasing Giants fans who’re already happy. There’s a bigger opportunity to really make a lasting impression by surprising people who need a cheering up (in this case, Pats fans.) 

If I were Pawngo, I’d use that money to buy a bunch of Dunkin’ cards or something. “Hey Boston”, I’d say, “Mondays usually suck, but we know today sucks more than usual. Hope this coffee helps.” 

Before this stunt, I am sure most Bostonians and New Englanders did not know one iota about Pawngo.  Heck, they are in Chicago and I have heard the name before but knew nothing about them. 

So that may have been some of the motivation for doing what they did, but they did it in the wrong city.  As a native New Englander (and a Patriots fan) I know people forget very little when someone wrongs them, and if anything Pawngo took the place of Bucky Dent as one of the most dreaded people in the region!


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