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Trump brand takes a hit

News, 12 June 2017
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NEW YORK: Almost 40% of consumers agree that perceptions of the Trump brand have been unfavourably impacted by President Donald Trump's "views and actions", a study has reported.

The 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) and SSRS, the market research firm, polled 1,056 adults about their opinions of brands that get involved in politics. (For more details, read WARC's exclusive report: Why brands should beware of playing politics.)

And their findings suggested the Trump brand – which spans everything from real estate to natural spring water and neckties – has been buffeted by some adverse headwinds.

"Only 9% reported the Trump brand is 'more luxurious' now that it shares its name with the president," noted Alison Fahey, Chief Marketing Officer at the 4A's.

Thirty-eight percent of interviewees, by contrast, agreed with the statement that the "Trump brand has been damaged by President Trump's views or actions" – a reading that remained largely consistent when broken down by age group.

Building on this theme, she asserted that a partisan divide is, unsurprisingly, discernible where the Trump brand is concerned, with "58% of Democrats responding this way".

While a modest 9% of Republicans adopted this position, however, that perspective was held by 43% of independents, according to the 4A's/SSRS analysis.

More broadly, just 19% of the entire survey panel believed the Trump brand is "strong", while 26% described it as "political".

Some other brands have, often unintentionally, been drawn into the President's orbit, too, as he uses Twitter to dish out unsolicited praise or unabashed criticism.

The former was the case with outdoor brand L.L. Bean after news emerged that Linda Bean – a board member and relation of the company's founder – had donated to a Political Action Committee (PAC) backing Trump's candidacy.

A lengthy statement from Shawn Gorman, L.L. Bean's Executive Chairman, sought to distance the corporation from any specific stance as many shoppers started talking about a boycott. "Simply put, we stay out of politics," he concluded.

By way of contrast, the Commander-in-Chief posted unflattering comments on Twitter regarding Nordstrom, the retailer, after it decided to drop the fashion line bearing the name of Ivanka Trump, his daughter.

In either case, Fahey indicated, the long-term consumer impact of this messaging could well be limited. "His endorsements are not impacting their purchasing decisions," she said.

"When the President gives a brand or product a positive endorsement, almost one-quarter of consumers – 22% – say they are less likely to purchase the product.

"Regardless of whether he tweeted a positive or negative endorsement, about three-quarters – 74% – of respondents said it had no impact on their purchasing decisions."

Data sourced from 4A's; additional content by WARC staff

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