Barstool Sports Founder Dave Portnoy is an extremely polarizing figure. From sexual misconduct accusations to racist, sexist and homophobic comments, Portnoy is hated by some, but still has a loyal legion of fans.
He is also described as possibly the “most prominent pizza critic in America” with his YouTube series, One Bite Pizza Reviews, per Bon Appétit. One positive review of his can change the trajectory of a small, unknown pizzeria.
The festival, held on Sept. 23 in New York, drew sponsors like Coca-Cola, High Noon and pizzerias. Some were lit up on social media, though, for their connection to Portnoy.
“Whether we like it or not, Dave Portnoy is the most influential person in pizza in the country, and every pizzeria in the country, with the exception of very few, is patiently waiting for the day that he walks through the door,” Scott Wiener, who owns a company that oversees pizza tours in New York, told the Post.
Why it matters: Partnering with Portnoy could bring a barrage of negative reviews— or a burst of new business. Is being linked to the pizza festival worth the issues and controversy?
Maggie DeMarco Mieles of Di Fara Pizza caught heat on social media for supporting Portnoy, but still said that answer is “yes.” DeMarco Mieles feels the benefits outweigh the controversy.
“The only way to stay in business and get your story out there is through social media nowadays,” DeMarco Mieles told the Post.
Like DeMarco Mieles, pizzerias and sponsors in the festival put their brand’s name and reputation out there for the event “in exchange for publicity or access to the young, social media-savvy audience that Portnoy attracts.”
While Portnoy is influential in the pizza space, being tied to him might bring as much infamy as fame.
Choose your allies carefully as a brand. Select the right people who align well with your audience, which includes those who your company affiliates with. This can have effects that are desired or disastrous, an impact felt almost immediately.
People could assume your values align with controversial figures and they will lump you in with their outlandish viewpoints.
Determine the risks when participating in events, brand deals or campaigns as a brand or sponsor.
Editor’s Top Picks:
- President Joe Biden is visiting Michigan today to stand with United Auto Workers who are striking. Biden is scheduled to walk with UAW members on the picket line – a day before former President Donald Trump’s own visit to the Mitten State. Biden’s visit comes as he grapples with lower polling numbers around how he tackles economic problems and government shutdown possibilities. Biden’s show of support to the UAW could bolster his image during a time when he needs it most. Connecting with groups over issues and pain points is a positive look for public figures who need some good PR.
- ChatGPT is evolving. But the AI chatbot is rolling out new hearing, speaking and seeing capabilities that lets users connect with it on a deeper level. Send it a picture of your refrigerator and ask it to give you a recipe from start to finish. Or tell ChatGPT to read your child a bedtime story. To begin with, the new capabilities will be available only for Plus and Enterprise subscribers. Start thinking about how you will interact with ChatGPT in a new way. Ask it to give you a campaign idea based on images or themes. The options are endless. How will you use the new voice and image function?
- Las Vegas Review-Journal Crime Reporter Sabrina Schnur wrote about a hit-and-run in August that killed retired Police Chief Andreas Probst. Her story included a headline about the crash that was accurate when it was written, but became outdated as more details emerged. Trolls, including Elon Musk, seized on the story to heap hatred and anti-Semitic hatred on the reporter. While the headline was updated to more accurately reflect the new details, Schnur’s editor stood by her during this time. Schnur said she won’t stop writing because people on “Twitter are upset.” Don’t stop because of trolls and back your folks who are victims to these mean-spirited online.
Sherri Kolade is a writer at PR Daily. When she is not with her family, she enjoys watching old films, reading and building an authentically curated life that includes, more than occasionally, finding something deliciously fried. Follow her on LinkedIn. Have a great PR story idea? Email her at email@example.com.