On Sunday, a pizzeria owner from Fort Pierce, Florida named Scott Van Nuzer was responsible for one of the most notorious photo opportunities in Barack Obama’s Presidency and the 2012 campaign thus far. When Van Nuzer bearhugged Obama in front of several onlookers and photographers at his restaurant, Big Apple Pizza; he most likely expected to experience a rapid influx of positive mentions of his establishment online. However, the social media backlash that the photo generated may have actually had negative impact on his business.
On the popular local search engine, Yelp, Big Apple Pizza was flooded with hundreds of negative reviews and comments from opponents of Obama’s campaign. Yelp has since removed much of the “spam” content that was added following the release of the photo, but only time will tell if Van Nuzer’s business will truly be impacted by the incident.
Social media has proven to be a powerful marketing tool for many companies, but it must be properly managed in order to effectively enhance a brand’s presence, both on and offline. The overall visibility that Big Apple Pizza gained from this publicity stunt and the support of the Democratic demographic will be valuable to the business, but the negativity expressed by Obama’s detractors may be problematic for Van Nuzer going forward.
Regardless of the impact that the “Bearhug Heard ‘Round the World” may have on Big Apple Pizza or even the President Obama’s campaign, it has certainly made an impact within social media and is likely to encourage many business owners to increase their social media management efforts.