US consumers entered the end of 2020 with concerns about the pandemic and the political environment, but, in December, vaccines and new leadership gave a sense of anticipation about 2021. That abruptly ended with the deadly January 6 Capitol riot, and this shock alters the playbook for how brands should act.

Why it matters

The election, and what came after it, mean that brands can’t operate completely independently from politics, and must learn to communicate in a tense climate; for some this will mean being a source of consistency and comfort.


  • The riot may have proved that brands shouldn’t add fuel to the fire, and instead find common ground.
  • But it also increased scrutiny on brands’ associations, so things like political associations need to be re-assessed.
  • The election season highlighted the need to control misinformation; brands must increase vigilance about unintentionally supporting it.

The big idea

The violence at the Capitol was fueled by misinformation and conspiracy, and already radically changed the way we see 2021. Therefore, actions brands should take are different than they might have been even a month ago.

Read more in the new WARC Spotlight series: Marketing in a polarized nation

Sourced from WARC