Politics as poison is the conventional positioning for brands. If it sounds like something a Congressman says on cable, just stay away.
This recent study, reported by Axios, confirms what any marketer worth their salt already knew: an unpopular President is not worth the trouble of association:
A new study from Morning Consult finds that brands discussing President Trump — whether in a positive or negative light — should expect backlash rather than positive responses.
Why it matters: Brands that stay true to their corporate values in messaging face less risk than those that react directly to being called out by the president or the president’s statements.
According to the study, only 30% of people will have a more favorable view of a company if it issues a positive statement about Trump. At the same time, only 32% will have a more favorable impression if it issues a negative statement.
Respondents told pollsters they separate their politics and their brand choices – and they are probably telling the truth.
But that does not mean brand choices exist apart from politics. Brands have a natural aversion to politicians and parties – and that’s probably a good thing. That is not the same as having an aversion to politics, or even the practice of politics… the sorting out of ideas and power that influence how we behave socially and govern ourselves. Consumers and their brand associations can and do have a politics without having a party, or a partisan personality.
Politicians come and go, parties change their agendas. One day Donald Trump will not dominate the national political discourse. Someone else will be President, who is popular or unpopular for their own reasons.
Yet even when the scene changes, the forces that drive Trump’s (un)popularity will remain well in place; the politics of cultural division in a diverse nation. The politics of who buys a voice in our legislatures and our elections.
The debates that aren’t going away are a far better terrain for engagement by brands who wish to endure…. Respondents even confirm brands won’t pay a price for engaging in ways consistent with their values.
Don’t let politicians and parties – who do very messy, high profile, and unpopular things – overcome your thinking about politics and political ideas. The former come and go. The latter are a permanent and more important than ever fixture in how consumers choose.
Which is to say, if you’re a brand thirsty for engagement and relevance, there’s much to be borrowed and adapted from the world of politics that supercharge your efforts.