Lies and deceit. Two things former OSU Head Coach Jim Tressel and Pizza Hut have in common. Right now I’m sure you’re all thinking this is going to be one far-fetched analogy. It’s quite the contrary really. Both Tressel and Pizza Hut either claim or appear to have the children’s best interest in mind. But do they really? Lets take a look.
Before news broke that Tressel was aware of his players dealings with tattoo artists and car dealers, Tressel was a highly regarded member of society, loved by Buckeye fans everywhere. And rightfully so. In his 10 seasons at Ohio State, Tressel 106 to 22 (66 to14) record in one of the most high-profile football conferences in the nation, seven conference championships (either shared or outright), eight BCS bowl game appearances, three BCS National Championship appearances, one BCS National Championship, and we can’t forget his nine to one record against rival Michigan.
However, Tressel status wasn’t based on coaching accolades alone. The man in the vest openly linked his on the field success to his faith. He shared his religious views openly, speaking at Christian events and writing about faith and sports in his books, including 2008’s Winning in the Game of Life.
Now you see where the situation gets a little hairy. Either Tressel truly made a mistake by withholding information or he’s not the man the Buckeye nation perceived him to be… I’m going with the latter.
In my opinion, Jim Tressel’s failure to report the NCAA violations by Terrell Pryor and gang had very little to do with protecting the players and a WHOLE LOT to do with ensuring another successful season—maybe even a national championship—to put down in the record books.
Long before I began Googling “Pizza Hut and advertising to youth,” I considered myself a proud member of the Book-it program and had every Land Before Time hand puppet the Yum! Brand company advertised. Throughout my childhood, Pizza Hut was the coolest place (aside from Chuck-E-Cheese—and that is a whole new can of worms) my parents could take me for dinner—especially after I turned in a book report!
Aside from the cool little star the server added to my Book-it badge, before dinner I had my pick of several arcade games, a jukebox, and of course those 25 cent machines they conveniently place right by the door. Pizza Hut was a pretty cool place back then. And apparently it’s even cooler now…
In addition to the Book-it program and games, Pizza Hut has found new ways to knowingly contaminate our nation’s youth through its web sites, partnerships with popular kids TV programs, and sports sponsorships. They even have went as far as to hire Justin Beiber to read their annual webcast titled “America’s Biggest Bedtime Story.” I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anyone much cooler to target their youth demographic than Justin Beiber. And over 500,000 people agreed as they tuned in to watch the pop sensation read from his favorite childhood book, “The Cat in the Hat.” Ethical or not, I’ve got to tip my hat to the marketing team responsible for landing Justin Beiber.
By now, I’m sure you’re all wondering how in the world Jim Tressel and Pizza Hut are at all comparable. Here’s how.
Just as Jim Tressel chose to deceive the NCAA and OSU fan base, Pizza Hut continues to deceive America’s youth by employing high profile clients to market their brand, as well as making themselves a known presence at every youth sporting event, in every elementary school, even on the Internet. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has brought the childhood obesity epidemic to the attention of Pizza Hut through subpoenas (requiring them to disclose details (including spending) on campaigns targeting children), Pizza Hut chooses to blatently ignore them, just as Jim Tressel did with his star athletes.
Unfortunately, Jim Tressel’s series of bad decisions have forever tainted his legacy. Hopefully this will not be the case with Pizza Hut—because we all saw how long it took McDonald’s to build their reputation back up after the film “Super Size Me.”
It’s all over but the crying (except for Jim Tressel, that is!) 😛