Want “Good PR”?: Why Brands Should Stay Out of Politics
Since the controversial election of President Donald Trump, many brands have decided to go political in their commercials and advertisements. According to new data, however, this might be doing more harm than good. The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) conducted a study examining “Brands, Agencies, and Political Values” and found that 58% of consumers said they dislike it when marketers discuss politics.
The backlash from Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner commercial which featured the model holding a Pepsi to a police officer during a protest. The ad was eventually removed and Pepsi apologized for offending anyone, specifically the Black Lives Matter Movement.
A complementary study from 4A’s shows similar results: 30% of ad agency professionals advise their clients to avoid politics. “Consumers are not looking to brands to take a position on political or social issues,” said Alison Fahey, CMO of the 4A’s, in a press release.
In terms of demographics and age, 44% of millennials surveyed said “I don’t like it; companies should stay out of politics,” compared to 37% of their peers who said they appreciate brands taking a stance when it is authentic. This dislike increases with age. 76% of individuals over 65 reported that they disagreed with brands taking a political approach.
Some brands might feel the need to go political, especially given the President’s inclination to attack brands on social media. However, the study showed that despite Trump’s frequent brand references on Twitter which have caused brands’ such as Boeing, General Motors and LLBean much grief, there is little impact on actual purchase behavior.
Still, if a brand thinks it must go political, then it is better to support or reject a political issue which dovetails with company’s values. For instance, 25% of agency respondents said they’ve counseled clients to align with sociopolitical issues that are authentic to the brand. Diesel’s Make Love Not Walls comes to mind.
Our best advice to clients? Stay out of the debate. All too often, campaigns that take a risk by venturing out and posting political content risk backlash which can spin out of control on social media. How has your company approached politics in its messaging?