Marketing Through #DeleteUber, #BoycottStarbucks and Trump Tweets
Brands taking stands earn themselves viral social media reactions, but perhaps Uber and Starbucks have it right — be proactive, rather than waiting for a tweet from President Donald Trump to send stock prices tumbling. Supporting one cause may yield sales from one group, even as another bloc boycotts the marketer.
#BoycottStarbucks trended on Twitter and Facebook on Monday, after the coffee company’s CEO promised to hire 10,000 refugees in the wake of Trump’s ban on immigration from seven countries with predominantly Muslim populations. Posts in favor of the boycott asked why Starbucks wasn’t hiring veterans. Posts mocking it said protesting customers wanted to see refugees harmed and those commenters would, therefore, buy from Starbucks. Will that balance out sales? Stock prices were down 0.09 percent as of 6 p.m. on Monday.
In another hashtagging campaign, it’s hard to tell what effect #DeleteUber is really having on the ride-hailing service. That’s because uninstalling an app doesn’t show up on the number of downloads and Uber is a private company. The Uber CEO did seem to be reacting to #DeleteUber, though, by announcing a “$3 million legal defense fund to help drivers with immigration and translation services,” according to Travis Kalanick’s Facebook page on Sunday.
The background on the #DeleteUber campaign goes back to Saturday evening, when New York City taxi drivers called an hour-long strike in protest of Trump’s immigration ban and Uber turned off its surge pricing to and from JFK. Continuing to drive during the protest spurred the #DeleteUber hashtag, because Kalanick is a Trump advisor who’s said he’d work with anyone to further his business goals.
During that same cab strike, though, Lyft drivers continued to serve customers, too. Despite breaking the strike, Lyft got positive PR from #DeleteUber supporters, because the company is donating $1 million to the ACLU to fight Trump’s immigration ban. TechCrunch says on Monday that Lyft is a top 10 download in Apple's App Store.
As much mind share as these campaigns occupy, how much more market share are Trump’s tweets worth?
In December 2016, then President-elect Trump’s tweet about Boeing temporarily caused a 1 percent stock price dip.
Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016
Marketers ranging from Kellogg’s to Skittles have found themselves thrust into the political spotlight, too.
So in an era in which brands may need to develop strategies about which side of the political aisle they’re on — rather than remaining neutral, as they’ve been able to do before — some investors may be investing in early-warning technologies, like the app that Fortune profiled on Jan. 5.
The “Trump Trigger” app lets investors with fears about presidential tweets see every post he makes about a publicly traded company.
“Trigger will let you know when Trump is tweeting about your portfolio companies,” Fortune tells investors, “and will allow you to set commands to ‘buy,’ ‘sell’ or ‘short.’”
(The Fortune article also brings up the possibility of positive Trump tweets about brands.)
One happened for "air conditioner manufacturer Carrier, a unit of United Technologies, which Trump has applauded for its decision to keep several hundred jobs in the U.S. rather than outsourcing them. (That decision was made as a result of $7 million in tax credits that vice president-elect Mike Pence helped negotiate for the company.)"
What do you think, marketers? Can marketers still be neutral?
Please respond in the comments section below.