Pawngo Stunt is an Example of “Vile” Marketing


Today most of New England is still bruised from the Patriots loss in the Super Bowl on Sunday.  For the last 48-hours the city that has been spoiled by championships in football, baseball, basketball and hockey in the last decade was numb at the sudden and heart-breaking loss by the Patriots.

You can feel it in the air nearly everywhere you go in the region: coffee shops, restaurants, taverns, schools, and work places.

New England loves its sports teams.

We’re hardy stock here in New England and not known for being thinned skinned, but what do you make of the actions of Pawngo, an online pawn shop headquartered in Denver?  This morning the company dumped 900-pounds of butterfingers in Copley Square with a sign bearing the Pawngo logo and a legend that reads (see the photo above):

“Thank you, Wes Welker.”

As many fans know, Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker dropped an admittedly difficult pass from quarterback Tom Brady that could have sealed a victory for the Patriots.  During the press conference after the game, Welker was holding back tears and took full blame for missing the catch.

Talk about rubbing salt in the wounds of an entire region.  Pawngo even rubbed it in further with a tweet:

“We’re giving Boston a late morning snack to get over Sunday’s loss #butterfingers”

So far the stunt has gotten a big thumbs down as you can see from the sample tweets below:

One wonders what Pawngo was thinking – or if it was thinking at all?

Todd Hills, the CEO of Pawngo, told Forbes:

“Sports are always competitive and there are going to be people who take offense to the stunt, but we hope that the majority of people will see the prank as the light-hearted joke we intended.”

I’m all for pranks and guerrilla marketing techniques, which are quite effective when they are clever and disruptive in unexpected ways.  But Hills is delusional if he thinks this stunt was light-hearted.  It was mean-spirited and obnoxious at its core.  Pawngo is celebrating the worst part of our sports culture, which is to rip the losers instead of celebrating the winners.

Being a poor winner – by degrading your opponent – is much worse than being a poor loser.  And what does Pawngo have to do with the Giants anyway?  They aren’t even from New York or New Jersey.  They are injecting themselves into the Super Bowl narrative by being as odious as possible.  All they want out of this is publicity.

Looks like they succeeded, but this is petty marketing at its finest.

What do you think?  Has Pawngo gone too far?


NESN story on Pawngo

Pawngo on Twitter

Forbes story on Pawngo

8 Responses to “Pawngo Stunt is an Example of “Vile” Marketing”

  1. This doesn’t make sense. The stunt obviously will only generate buzz in the Boston area, so it’s not even like they are getting national exposure. Given it’s negative, would that really make Boston natives want to visit the site and check them out? No…. Looks like the Fail Whale is on its way to Denver.

    Nice post, George.

  2. I agree with you. I’m a Pats fan, and it sucks to listen to other people ripping us apart. It’s like they’re happier that the Pats lost that that the Giants won. Get a life, people!

    I think you said it best here: “Pawngo is celebrating the worst part of our sports culture, which is to rip the losers instead of celebrating the winners.” It’s stupid and petty.

    I’m hoping the city of Boston fines them for this! Oh, and GO BRUINS!

  3. Hi Cody:
    I agree. This is a pure link bait move by Pawngo.

    And yes, Daisy, go Bruins!

  4. This stunt orchestrated by Todd Hills and his company is vile, disgusting, disturbing and it’s like kicking a dog when he’s down. I have made many comments on his company’s facebook & web site accounts and I’m not the only one. Rightly so. He finally relented, sending out what can only be described as a heartless attempt at an apology. I have suggested to Mr. Hills that he and his company make a donation to The Wes Welker Charitable Foundation in Oklahoma City as well as The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation. I believe that may go a long way to healing the wound. If Myra Kraft were alive today, I’m sure she would echo those sentiments. Thanks for listening.

  5. Hi Mike:
    A fine idea. Mr. Hills and his company should triple the fine they received from the City of Boston for illegal dumping and present it to charity.

  6. Todd Hills of Pawngo is at it again. He half apologizes to Wes Welker. Then he gets a ton of pressure from around the country and last week “promises” to make a donation to the Wes Welker Charitable Foundation for kids and doesn’t follow thru with a donation. What a piece of work.

  7. Hi Mike:
    Thanks for the update. I’ll have to check that out.


  1. Smart things: Pinterest, cogs, frogs and mackerel 2.10.12 | Sword and the Script - March 20, 2012

    […] Pawgo, an online pawnshop from Denver, which sent would-be guerrilla marketers to Boston to dump a pile of Butterfinger candybars in the middle of Copley Square with a sign that said, “Thank you Wes Welker.”  The […]

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