Let’s get political?

Published March 6, 2017 by Jill Herman

Categories: The business of marketing

The last several months have been a whirlwind of unprecedented political moments that have left Americans at times outraged, overjoyed or downright confused. Regardless of your political view, recent events have been polarizing. Many brands have taken this opportunity to voice their opinions and let their customers know where they stand – for better or worse.

Take Super Bowl 50, for example. Some of the most talked about ads during the big game focused on current hot-button topics like immigration, the wage gap and diversity.

In regards to the recent immigration ban, brands let their stance be known – big names like Starbucks, Nike and Apple all spoke out against the ban. Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz even expressed his desire to hire 10,000 refugees.

Other brands such as Uber, New Balance and L.L. Bean have shown support for the current administration in one way or another. Uber saw perhaps the biggest backlash with users deleting their accounts after Uber seemingly broke the taxi drivers’ strike at JFK airport in January, in addition to its CEO serving on Trump’s economic advisory council.

No matter what side these brands are on, the backlash has been apparent. Hashtags like #BoycottNike, #DeleteUber and #GrabYourWallet have been trending to call out these brands and discourage people from supporting those that don’t align with their beliefs. But as most trends these days, all of the backlash will likely blow over, and it hasn’t stopped more brands from speaking out.

So is it worth it to get political?

You may not have a choice

Sometimes consumers will pull brands into political conversations, whether they want to get involved or not. So, learn about your audience through traditional research, social listening or third party data. That way you’ll know what will resonate with them before you’re called to comment.

Do it with purpose

If you choose to engage, do so with caution. Don’t jump into the conversation if you don’t have anything meaningful to say. Inserting yourself into politics if your business is completely unrelated or not apparently impacted by political events may come off as insincere and attention seeking, so be smart about it.

Be creative, thoughtful or funny

If you’re going to get political, make sure your response is well thought out. Share your stance in a measured and creative way, or take a page out of this hair care company’s playbook and make it funny.

Comments

  • Well done! I enjoyed your article. You made some good points.
    by: John L. on 2017-04-12 11:30:14
  • Jill - Nice job on a tough topic. Most political seasons don't require much thought from brands - with few exceptions, you just don't go there. But you are right - in this climate, if people get pulled in by their customers, competitors or the media, it is good to have some thoughts at the ready. I cant remember a time when politics was so far forward in the public consciousness.
    by: Scott LoSasso on 2017-03-07 21:07:24

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