Earlier this week Mitt Romney showed us a key lesson about borrowing brand loyalty. Looking to connect with the “real” Pennsylvanians, he decided that he’d grab quick lunch at our beloved Wawa and borrow some of the brand love. Nice try. Mitt, if you’re going to borrow brand loyalty, you need to know and at least like the brand first. Rule one: Call it by the right name. At several campaign stops later, he referred to the brand as ‘Wawas.’ He said to the crowd, “Well, I went to a place today called Wawas. You ever been to Wawas?” By repeating the gaffe, he achieved the exact opposite goal, showing how unfamiliar he was with the brand.
Just how big of a mistake was it to get the name wrong? Well, let’s ask David Letterman who introduced a new segment to his show titled ‘Please stop saying Wawas!’ The clip shows a confident Romney getting the name wrong again and again, to the surprise and hilarity of locals and now the entire country. Wawa is so beloved and omnipresent in the region, no one could believe he could get it wrong, especially with the name and logo clearly visible on the outside of each store. Romney wanted to gain favor by showing how much he understands the every-day American, but failed at the most basic level.
Romney’s gaffe taught us that to borrow brand loyalty, you need to do your homework first. You have to know it, try it and love it. Then and only then, can you begin to try to borrow it. So Romney, on behalf of Pennsylvania, please stop saying ‘Wawas’!