Even in the world of professional golf, with a name like “Bubba,” people should expect you to make the occasional “down home” decision. So, it came as little surprise to many, when golf superstar Bubba Watson celebrated his recent Masters tournament win at the local Waffle House, says Ronn Torossian CEO of 5WPR.
It was reported that Watson and his family enjoyed a good meal, and he left a more than healthy tip. But, the next day, a self proclaimed healthy eating guru was all over cable news criticizing Watson. The guru went so far as to insinuate Watson was being hypocritical for enjoying “smothered and covered,” saying athletes and professional celebrities don’t really eat like that.
So, wait, a guy takes his family to Waffle House, and it makes news in a NEGATIVE way? Yes. Ronn Torossian explains the PR issues surrounding this non issue.
First, there is nothing wrong with Waffle House. Even the self-appointed “healthy eating guru,” who shook their finger at Watson, said Waffle House was okay. Second, Watson should not have to establish a pattern of eating one way or another. Does he “regularly” eat at Waffle House, or was the meal a publicity stunt to win over the Middle America fan base? People, the man’s name is “Bubba.” Not exactly the hero of the blue bloods, is he?
So, why all the fuss, and what does it mean for public relations for all involved? The first PR issue in play is that of Bubba’s brand. As one of golf’s designated “regular Joes,” Watson is, though incredibly talented, already seen as a man of the people. He neither loses nor gains a thing for eating at Waffle House. Everyone who follows golf also realizes this guy feels just as comfortable with the white tablecloth set.
The second consideration is that of Waffle House’s brand. They love people who love to eat comfort food. It does them a tremendous amount of good for their brand to be seen in the company of a fit and attractive athlete, and his equally photogenic family. This is incredibly exceptional free PR for Waffle House, and they need to make the most of it.
Finally, for the self-appointed food nanny, notice we did not mention your name. We understand what you are really all about. And we have to agree, from a strictly PR standpoint, you have scored some points as well. Not only were you on national TV all weekend long, you have managed to become the target of talk radio ire, as well. Being hated on by those folks is exactly the optimum way to preach to your target market.
So, the final tally? Someone on every side of this issue is wagging their finger at someone else. But, in reality, everyone birdied this hole.