Comedian Steve Rannazzisi, known for starring in FX’s The League, was dumped by Buffalo Wild Wings. The chain pulled ads featuring the comedian when it was discovered he lied about being in one of the World Trade Center Towers on 9/11. He said he saw the first plane hit as he watched from a window.
Rannazzisi apologized on social media. He put his feelings on Twitter, explaining how his actions were those of a young man needing to feed his desire for attention.
Now his actions are having an effect on his business affiliations. Buffalo Wild Wings has removed all ads with the likeness of Rannazzisi. After the comedian was confronted by the New York Times, Buffalo Wild Wings issued a statement questioning their relationship with him Tuesday.
“We are disappointed to learn of Steve’s misrepresentations regarding the events of September 11, 2001. We are currently re-evaluating our relationship with Steve pending a review of all the facts.”
After weighing their options, Buffalo Wild Wings decided to severe the connection with Rannazzisi.
“Upon careful review, we have decided to discontinue airing our current television commercials featuring Steve Rannazzisi.”
The Buffalo Wild Wings spots have become some of the most memorable ads the company has produced. The commercials feature Rannazzisi in various comedic adventures during the peak times of sports events. The company had started running its most recent ads with the comedian earlier this year during March Madness.
Sally Smith, CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings, said Wednesday in an interview with Yahoo Finance that Rannazzisi was selected for marketing because The League fit with its image. When working with public figures, she said companies have to consider how to carefully evaluate them.
“The League did fit in very well with Buffalo Wild Wings and our persona and what we do. But I think that anytime you’re working with a personality, you have to consider how you appropriately vet that personality and not have that personality take over for the brand, but supplement the message that you’re trying to portray. There’s always a risk and there’s always things that you need to be aware of.”
Mr. Rannazzisi had been giving his elaborate yet inaccurate account of his 9/11 experience for more than a decade after the attacks. He has been living in Los Angeles after the incident.
[Photo by Daniel Zuchnik / Getty Images]