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Insight: How damaging is a Trumpstorm?

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By: RickFerguson |

Posted on May 1, 2017

Ad Age has a fascinating analysis of the effect on consumer brand perception of companies who ended up in conflict with President Donald Trump during his first 100 days in office. The result, based on some serious data-crunching of social media hashtags, is at once obvious and surprising - in some cases brands fared well in their Trumpstorm; others fared poorly. In a polarized political climate, when brands tangle with the President, the winner is in the eye of the beholder.
By Rick Ferguson
Ad Age worked with research firm MavenMagnet to evaluate the impact on seven brands that were swept up in Trumpstorms: CNN, Delta, Lyft, Macy's, Nordstrom, The New York Times, and Uber. To determine the brand impact, MavenMagnet analyzed more than 6,400 online conversations from Election Day through April 1. Here's what they found:
  • Trumpstorm: The retailer dropped Ivanka Trump's clothing line.
  • Impact: Online discussion had an overall positive 24% "net vibe;" 62% of conversations were favorable to the brand and 37% negative, the best score of the evaluated brands.
  • Trumpstorm: The ride-sharing service made an ACLU donation during President Trump's first travel ban.
  • Impact: The donation generated a net vibe of minus 32%.
  • Trumpstorm: The president has continually criticized the network's coverage of his administration, calling the network "Fake news."
  • Impact: Mitigated, with a negative 8% net vibe.
New York Times
  • Trumpstorm: Trump has also tangled repeatedly with the Gray Lady, calling it "the failing New York Times."
  • Impact: A positive net vibe impact of plus 16%.
  • Trumpstorm: The retailer banned Trump-branded products in July 2015, after Trump referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals.
  • Impact: Stung by a "boycott Macy's" campaign by Trump supporters, the retailer was hit with a minus 90% net vibe rating.
Delta Air Lines
  • Trumpstorm: The airline banned a Trump supporter from its flights for life after the passenger went on a tirade against fellow passengers.
  • Impact: A negative 38% net vibe rating; sources of the negativity were mixed between Trump supporters and activists who claimed that Delta only left the passenger on the plane because he was white.
  • Trumpstorm: The ride-sharing service was attacked by both sides: by Trump supporters for backing a taxi strike after Trump's immigration ban; and by Trump opponents for CEO Travis Kalanick's position on the President's Economic Advisory Board.
  • Impact: A net vibe rating of minus 19%.
Regardless of your opinion of the efficacy of a "net vibe" rating, two interesting learnings emerge from these findings. First, brands who tangled with the President often ended up with net negative ratings because both sides of the political divide reacted negatively. Second, only two of these brands - Nordstrom and the New York Times - received positive impact from the controversies. The results suggest that the best option for brands is to strenuously avoid Trumpstorms as much as possible.
With the President often picking fights himself, however, that might be easier said than done. Our advice: Avoid the political fray and stay focused on the only relationships that matter: the ones you have with your best customers.
Rick Ferguson is CEO and Editor in Chief of the Wise Marketer Group.