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Should Brands Speak Out? The Results Are In

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We recently published a feature on rise of ‘backlash marketing’.

Marketing jargon? Maybe. Prevalent in 2017? Absolutely!

The term has been used to describe the brands who are using political stances (mostly against Trump) as a means of generating engagement.

Our key findings found that a growing number of brands are adopting ‘backlash marketing’, as demonstrated by their public condemnation of the US president.

With this in mind, we decided to run a Twitter poll to find out what the rest of the world thinks about brands who mix business with politics?

The poll received 148 votes in total, with 73% of respondents defending the rights of brands to speak out on matters of public interest.

On the other hand, 27% of people believe brands should ‘stick to what they know’ and abstain from political debate.

So, what do the experts think?

Lucy Clarke, Social Chain’s marketing director, says:

“Donald Trump is a glorified businessman. He has long used Twitter himself to express his opinions, so why should business leaders and companies be able to do the same?

“I think many brands are speaking out to celebrate the inclusive nature of their company. They are standing up for the modern-day diversity that so many big corporates have worked so hard to achieve over the years.”

But what does this mean for brands?

Speaking out will invariably result in mixed feelings (as highlighted by our poll). But should that stop brands from standing up for what ‘they’ believe in?

In truth, doing so ultimately depends on how well you know your audience. On the other hand, sparking an emotive reaction on social is instrumental when it comes to superior engagement.

Is ‘backlash marketing’ worth the risk?

What may seem like a risky move, can actually pay off. However, it’s important to maintain a certain relevance when weighing in on current affairs.

For instance, Gucci’s stance as one of the world’s leading fashion houses and a major name in womenswear gave them grounds to speak out in favour of the women’s march – why wouldn’t they?

Uber, on the other hand, received a huge amount of reputational damage after speaking out against Trump’s travel ban, partly due to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s membership of Trump’s advisory council.

The taxi app didn’t help matters when they decided to drop surge charging on cabs around JFK Airport, during an anti-Trump and Taxi Alliance demonstration.

As a result of Uber’s perceived attempts to ‘cash in’, #DeleteUber trended worldwide and resulted in approximately 200,000 of Uber’s 40 million users uninstalling the app.

Dark days? On the front face of things yes, but good or bad sentiment is better than indifference.

Standing up for your brand’s values can pay off, if you’re prepared to stand up to the consequences.

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