You’d think by now brands wouldn’t still be dealing with political fallout from President Donald Trump’s entrance into the Oval Office, but they are — whether the boycotts are pro- or anti-Trump. A quarter of Americans aren’t buying certain brands, and they blame politics, says a recent Ipsos study.
That amounts to 80 million Americans changing their purchasing habits, Ad Age reports about the Ipsos research.
And on Wednesday, Money-ish weighed into the matter with an article titled, “Why Brands Like Smirnoff Build Buzz Mocking President Trump, But Others Get Major Backlash.”
Nicole Lyn Pesce writes for Money-ish that brands walk a fine line between funny and offensive, but brands can actually make politics work in their favor.
“If the action reflects the brand’s DNA or is a perfectly timed response to a current event, it can delight current customers and win new fans, which we’ve seen in the case of the Merriam-Webster dictionary on Twitter,” Sakita Holley, a public relations strategist and CEO of House of Success PR, told Pesce.
📈 Lookups fo...
Regrets checking Twitter.
Goes back to bed.
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) May 31, 2017
The June 8 article in Ad Age cites a source who agrees with Holley, as well as one saying brands need to take a stand.
Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations, tells article author Kate Kaye that "While it's unrealistic for a brand to think it can speak to the values of all consumers, the prevalence of partisanship and the risk of alienating certain market segments is something a brand should consider when ideating and executing ads or campaigns."
Neither article got into an issue I’d covered after the Inauguration, when Trump’s tweets were having a huge impact on brands’ bottom lines. Should brands take a stand as a pre-emptive measure?
No, finds another study. CampaignLive.com cites SSRS numbers gathered in consumer surveys from March 29 to April 7, 2017. Article author Kathryn Luttner says in May 2017 of the research commissioned by 4A’s: “58 percent of consumers surveyed said they dislike it when marketers talk politics.”
Consumers recalled boycotts to answer questions for that research. For example, one marketer — Nordstrom — saw stock fluctuate because of a Trump tweet about the retailer pulling the Ivanka Trump clothing line from its stores, citing low sales. At first, the stock felt the presidential ire and that of pro-Trump boycotters, then anti-Trump customers buoyed its sales.
The Ipsos research Ad Age cites says: “Some 34 percent of Republicans surveyed reported boycotting Nordstrom, for example, compared to 12 percent of Democrats. The study captured respondents in February, when the decision by the retailer to drop Ivanka Trump's clothing line was in the headlines.”
Since then, though, Nordstrom’s been in the news for a costly mud-splatted denim ensemble that dragged its name through the dirt.
The Ad Age article adds: “The survey also hit right around the time that Uber's decision to cut prices during an airport taxi strike protesting the president's travel ban sparked a #DeleteUber campaign. Some 32 percent of Democrats in the study said they boycotted Uber, compared to 13 percent of Republicans.”
But all of this does bring up the question I’ve written about before — will consumers switch brands and keep the money flowing to the same marketers?
One Ad Age source says so:
Daniel O'Connell, managing director and Brand Definition, an agency that works primarily with tech clients including Hitachi and Philips, was not convinced [consumers stopped buying]. That 25 percent number ‘probably changes with time,’ he said. ‘I think that number, sooner or later, it all equalizes.’
What do you think, marketers? Should brands take stands if it's part of their DNA? For instance, Absolut can't be considered a Johnny-come-lately to LGBT rights.
Please respond in the comments section below.
Related story: Be Like Nordstrom: Take a Stand, Brands