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Media & Marketing
Published: 8 Nov 2016

US Election: Brands Get Proactive

Earlier in the presidential race, many brands deployed light-hearted news-jacking campaigns to be part of the moment. Some adapted and softly parodied political rhetoric, such as Budweiser's Bud Light Party, or Chrysler's American People. Others encouraged peaceful co-existence, like Jeep's Free to Be. However, as tensions around the election grew, these generalised campaigns struggled to resonate.

American streetwear brand Supreme chose to take a stronger position by taking a clear stance against Republican candidate Donald Trump on its Instagram account – receiving more than 100k likes for doing so. More neutral brands are also making their presence felt by helping citizens cast their ballots on November 8. As part of its 2016 Vote Our Planet initiative, outdoor apparel brand Patagonia closed all of its retail outlets to allow staff to vote and encourage customers to do the same.

Meanwhile, ride-hailing apps are playing their part in getting voters to the polling stations. Lyft is offering a 45% discount between 7am and 8pm to make it easier to vote for the 45th president, while Uber has partnered with Google to add polling locations to its ride registry.

To ensure voters are well-informed when they arrive, The New York Times is giving free access to all of its content from November 7-9. And finally, Krispy Kreme is rewarding each person sporting an "I Voted" sticker with a free donut. For more on marketing by providing in-the-moment utility, see Mastering the Attention Economy: Social Media Week London 2016.

As we examine in Brands Take a Stand – part of our latest Macro Trend The Currency of Dissent – moving at the speed of culture now means acknowledging social concerns when the stakes are high. For instance, in October, US ice-cream brand Ben & Jerry's became the first major consumer brand to align itself with the Black Lives Matter movement. Brands can no longer expect to piggyback on the wave of attention around an issue without also taking a position on it.

To keep tabs on how consumer attitudes are being reflected in online communities and the entertainment industry, follow our monthly Pop Culture Round-Ups.

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