From a PR standpoint, you have to be a pretty big liability to be turned down for a $500,000 charitable donation. Sadly, this is the exact situation Tucker Max, bad boy blogger and known womanizer, found himself in this week when he tried to give a very large check to Planned Parenthood.
A short jaunt to the Tucker Max website will give you a general idea of the type of persona and image Tucker Max has created for himself in mainstream media. His bio boldly states that “I am Tucker Max, and I am an asshole. I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead.” Max is a frat boy turned author who made millions of dollars, and sold even more books, giving his readers a play-by-play of his debacherous ways. Some of his most noted stories can be found on his website (screen shot below).
Looking at those titles alone should give you a pretty good idea of the type of person Max sees himself as.
How did Max find himself in the spotlight this week?- he tried to give a $500,00 check to Planned Parenthood and they flat out refused to take it. OUCH!
Why did he want to donate in the first place? Out of the goodness of his heart? Maybe. More accurately, he found himself needing to make a large charitable donation as a tax write off and thought it would be a great PR stunt to have a women’s health clinic named after himself in Texas (Side note: brilliant idea on behalf of his PR guy, Ryan Holiday). At first, the Planned Parenthood office in Dallas, Texas was more than thrilled to take his money. Aimee Boon, a Vice President at the office, wrote in an email to Max’s rep, “I am so pleased that your employer is interesting in considering a named gift…We would be honored to have his support, and his gift would make an enormous impact in our ability to meet the needs of our rapidly growing community in North Texas.” In an blog post written by Holiday on Forbes.com, immediately following the incident, he explains that more emails were exchanged laying out the donation tiers and what naming rights would cost (between $250,000-$500,000). After discussing the details over the phone expressing how serious they were about this donation, a final lunch was set between Max and the CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region, Ken Lambrecht. What happened next? Planned Parenthood’s corporate office caught wind of the situation and put the kibosh on it! As Max was driving to the meeting, he got a phone call from a panicked Planned Parenthood administrator instructing him that the meeting was canceled and they would not be accepting his donation.
So in other words, Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region turned away 1/2 a million dollars because they didn’t want their clinic, or larger brand, to be associated with Tucker Max.
After the incident Max went to his blog to try and save face. In the 4 page rant, he waxed poetic about how Planned Parenthood was putting its image before helping millions of women who would have benefited from the money they turned away. He said, “You want to know how I know this wasn’t about money, that this was just about them judging me? They never even suggested an anonymous donation. Never suggested I name it after someone else. Never brought it any of it up. They just flat out said no.” Sounds like a little bruised ego to me?
How do we at this Albany marketing firm think Planned Parenthood handled this delicate situation? From a pure PR standpoint, it was a good move for them. Someone as unpredictable and degrading as Max should not be associated with a brand/organization that makes it’s living on empowering woman and providing care for them. From a fiscal standpoint, well, that’s a whole other conversation. Tucker Max’s true feelings towards Planned Parenthood are better represented in a recent Tweet (that has mysteriously been deleted).