A new study from Morning Consult finds that for most major companies, there is no upside in discussing the president, Axios media expert Sara Fischer reports:
- Regardless of whether the message is positive or negative, it's far more likely to generate backlash for most companies than draw positive reactions.
Why it matters: Brands that stay true to their corporate values in messaging face less reputational risk than those that react directly to being called out by President Trump or his tweets.
- The tech industry has been most out-front in taking stands on public issues, especially immigration, and other companies have taken stands on guns.
According to the study, only 30% of people will have a more favorable view of a company if it issues a positive statement about Trump. At the same time, only 32% will have a more favorable impression if it issues a negative statement.
- The backlash can be worse from a negative statement. Most Trump voters (56%) have a much less favorable view of a brand if it says something negative about the president, while only 32% of Clinton voters say they would have a much more favorable view.
- The bottom line: Regardless of what a company says about the president, an overwhelming majority (70%) of Americans will either disapprove or simply won’t care.
The big dilemma for brands is that they're being pulled in two directions when it comes to political and issue messaging:
- On one end, consumers want companies to take a stand on certain issues, like civil rights and racial equality. The business risk in staying silent on corporate values can be massive, according to Edelman's Earned Brand study.
- On the other, most consumers don't like it when companies address issues pegged to the president, even if many of his actions — like his recent tweets criticizing LeBron — bring certain issues to the public debate.
The solution: Brand experts tell Axios that there's a clear way to navigate the Trump trap — or being pulled into a politically-charged conversation with the president: Focus on long-term corporate values in response to being called out.
- Just don't mention his name.