Before President Donald Trump took office, he made it clear during his first press conference that he was divesting himself of his business interests. That’s why on Friday, as Trump took the oath of office, others were objecting to his wife, Melania Trump, announcing her jewelry line on WhiteHouse.gov. Was the First Lady marketing?
The Washington Post’s headline on Friday seems to assert Melania Trump may have been marketing, which many believe is a conflict of interest. “White House Website Touts Melania Trump’s Modeling and Jewelry Line,” asserts the headline about the First Lady.
(During his press conference, Trump said he could legally run his business while president. However, he handed over control to his grown sons to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.)
With a headline like that, I thought I’d find calls to action, ads and more on WhiteHouse.gov. What I found on Friday night was a very brief mention of her jewelry line, without a hyperlink. It didn’t even say if she was still selling baubles. It implies it. But the site doesn’t say it.
“Melania is also a successful entrepreneur,” reads the third-to-last paragraph in her bio on WhiteHouse.gov. “In April 2010, Melania Trump launched her own jewelry collection.”
On Friday, I also searched on QVC — which articles about the WhiteHouse.gov bio mention as selling her jewelry — and found no results. Amazon.com and eBay are selling the products, but both outlets can work as resellers of items no longer being manufactured.
Also, while the Post’s headline notes Melania Trump’s modeling career and so does her bio, there’s no mention on WhiteHouse.gov that the First Lady plans to work in the field during the next four years.
Still, sites can be updated and the Post’s article published at 3:30 p.m.
I checked WhiteHouse.gov and QVC hours later.
Here’s what the Post asserts: “It is not uncommon for the White House to note the accomplishments of the first lady in her official biography, but Trump’s decision to include a detailed list of her media appearances and branded retail goods is unusual. The site also lists the brand names of Trump’s jewelry lines sold on QVC, at a time when questions have been raised by critics about the ethical implications of the family’s business entanglements. ‘Melania is also a successful entrepreneur. In April 2010, Melania Trump launched her own jewelry collection, “Melania™ Timepieces & Jewelry,” on QVC,’ the site reads. The televised sales company does not currently sell Trump’s jewelry, according to a statement from a QVC spokeswoman.”
Meanwhile, President Trump is no stranger to controversy in the marketing space. Brands, including Tic Tacs, have even made statements distancing themselves from him during his presidential run. His son earned a rebuke from Skittles. One of Trump’s cabinet picks caused his former employer to call for a boycott of Kellogg’s.
Now with the Melania Trump controversy, Americans are quick to judge. Friday night, Facebook posts and tweets were filled with outrage.
Addition of Melania’s modeling and jewelry line to the White House website is a FAIL @POTUS
— Kris Madaus (@Evilkow) January 20, 2017
@POTUS removes webpages on LGBTQ/Womens/Civil Rights & Climate Change, but lists all of Melania's magazine appearances and QVC jewelry line
— Sasha Ai (@_SashaAi) January 20, 2017
As of 8:30 p.m. on Friday, @POTUS had no comment on the matter and Melania Trump’s biography still contained the modeling and jewelry references.
What do you think, marketers? Is the mentioning of Melania Trump’s jewelry line making WhiteHouse.gov an e-commerce site?
Please reply in the comments section below.
Related story: Red Bull on Content Marketing