Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Exploitation of Charles Ramsey

Image source: WebProNews
May 23, 2013 - When is a hamburger a hero sandwich? When it's given free to Charles Ramsey, the burger lover and good Samaritan who rescued Amanda Berry and her daughter, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight from the house of Arial Castro in Cleveland on May 6.

When is a hero just a cheap way to get publicity for your restaurant? 

Ramsey ended their decade-long nightmare and became an instant hero, and a bunch of Ohio restaurants are shamelessly using Ramsey as the center piece to get virtually free public relations. The exploitation of Charles Ramsey is in full swing.

"I went to McDonald's," he told Fox News, "came home, I'm eating my McDonald's, I got the day off from work, so naturally you're doing nothing. And, I hear this girl screaming, and she's going nuts." As any real hero would do, he put down his food and ran outside to see what the trouble was. That's when he found Amanda Berry yelling for help from the inside of Castro's front door.

More than a dozen restaurants in the Cleveland area are now tripping over each other to give Ramsey free burgers for life. And, finally, McDonald's itself has promised free burgers to Ramsey, but only for a year.

And why not? They're getting a lot of free publicity. It will cost each of them nothing more than a few burgers a month at most.

I'm happy for Charles Ramsey that he's is getting free food for performing his civic duty. Thousands of other Americans perform heroic deeds every year. Some are professional first responders: Fire fighters, police officers, paramedics, and so on. Many are ordinary people who help neighbors and strangers in distress, from stopping to give first aid to accident victims to to running into a burning house to save people to intervening in a mugging. How many of those people -- even after being interviewed for TV -- get free food for life from local restaurants? (Answer: None.)

“We want to honor our local hero with local food,” said Scott Kuhn, who runs several of the restaurants giving Ramsey free burgers. Webpronews quoted Kuhn's explanation: “He stopped his meal midway through to help those women. We’re now making sure he has other opportunities to go out and fully enjoy his burger.” Yah, sure. Really?

Charles Ramsey. Image: Fox8
Wow. He "stopped his meal midway!" We all know how dangerous and painful that is, right? It takes immense courage and physical strength to, you know, suddenly stop eating. Right? Look, Ramsey is certainly a hero, but he is not the only local hero that Cleveland can claim.

I repeat: I am happy that Charles Ramsey is getting free burgers. He deserves more, frankly. What I have a beef with (pardon the pun) is that so many other deserving heroes go unappreciated by so many, and that Ramsey is being used as a cheap pawn by many in their public relations and advertising schemes.

Other local heroes have put their own lives on the line to help neighbors, whether they were in the middle of a meal or not. Has Scott Kuhn reached out to them? Did Scott Kuhn -- or any other restaurateurs -- reach out to Jerry Thomas, a Cleveland hero who ran into a burning house three times to save neighbors in 2010? Did Scott Kuhn ever consider offering free burgers to Adam Goodall, a security guard at  William Cullen Bryant School? Goodall, and his fellow security guards, put their own safety on the line daily to break up fights and keep intruders out. What about Patty Cannon, who saves lives in late 2011 during a building fire? She threw on some clothes at 2:30 a.m. and alerted fellow residents. Will she ever get  even one free hamburger from any of Scott Kuhn's restaurants? Nope, because Thomas, Goodall and Cannon didn't get huge national media attention. In other words, they're not good publicity bait.

Perhaps the attention being given to Charles Ramsey is not simply because he really is a hero, but because Cleveland has so few heroes -- and because the Cleveland Police Department is so inept.

This is so ironic. Hero-starved Cleveland is the hometown of Superman's creator, Jerry Siegel. The man steel is the greatest hero ever. Unless, of course, you're more of a Marvel Comics fan. But you get my point.

Hodge's Cleveland, a restaurant, has a link to buy Charles Ramsey tee shirts. That link goes to the website of On Point Promos, which says the shirts are helping to raise money for the families of the women he rescued. They started selling the shirts on May 8, two days after Ramsey's heroic deed.

That sound good right? Nope, because it's just another cheap publicity stunt. The shirts are being sold for $20 each, and "100% of the profits" will go to the women's families." In other words, part of that $20 price covers On Point's costs, so they lose nothing on this promotion. This is one of the dumbest fundraising promotions ever.

"Due to the high interest in the shirts," says On Point's web page, "we are going to keep the store open until Friday, May 24th in order to raise as much money as we can for the girls."

Exploiting Charles Ramsey
That's incredibly stupid: If you have "high interest" in your product, and you want to raise as much money as possible for "the girls," why would you stop selling it after only 16 days of sales? It makes no sense unless you consider this: Like the restaurants giving free burgers to Ramsey, On Point Promos was seeking a quicky publicity fix.

In a call to On Point Promos today, Chicago News Bench was told that their media relations person was not available for comment. We visited the On Point Promos site and sent a message via their "contact" page, and then received an auto reply from "" The Driftwood Restaurant Group owns Hodge's Cleveland. The email to us said, "Thank you for showing your support to Charles Ramsey! We are proud of Charles Ramsey for his role in the rescue of three local women. If you are interested in purchasing a Cleveland Hero T-Shirt, please purchase online here:"

They're so damned proud that they will stop selling the shirt tomorrow. They're so concerned about honoring local heroes that they've only honored one. What a pantload.