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Brief Published: 14 Nov 2016

Post-Trump Marketing

In Brands Take a Stand, we emphasised the need for marketers to engage with political and social realities – even if it meant polarising audiences. The victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election makes this need even more acute, but undoubtedly throws up new challenges for brands.

American footwear brand New Balance experienced this first-hand last week, when an ostensibly pro-Trump comment by its vice-president of public affairs, Matt LeBretton, caused a backlash. He was expressing support for Trump’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, rather than the administration as a whole. Nonetheless, his comments led to outrage among anti-Trump New Balance customers, with some posting photos on Twitter of their sneakers thrown into the bin or set alight in protest. New Balance felt compelled to issue a statement clarifying the brand’s position as a result.

Consumers have become even more polarised as a result of Trump’s win and the boost it gives to right-wing sentiments globally. This week, US ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry’s offered an example of how to engage, take a stand, and turn a negative narrative into a positive one by releasing a new ad, One Sweet World, which promotes a vision of inclusivity and tolerance.

The ad communicates this message without shying away from political realities – at one point, there’s a direct (and disparaging) reference to the racist anti-immigration poster unveiled by the UK Independence Party during the Brexit campaign. Ben & Jerry’s also released an open letter to Trump, stating: “We are unwavering in our values.” Will other brands follow its example?

See our latest Macro Trend The Currency of Dissent for more on engaging with consumers in a volatile world.