There has been lots of talk about brands standing up to sensationalism in the media, but they are in part responsible. Generally, brands see it best to stay non-partisan and without commentary. However, it has recently played into some brands favour to take some form of a stand.
When Lego pulled all advertising from the Daily Mail, they exclaimed that they were doing so in line with their very family-oriented, child-friendly and inclusive values. To publicly disassociate themselves with a sensationalist media outlet where they have advertised up until very recently sends a very powerful message. Regardless of this, national headlines about them pulling out of one of the UK’s biggest papers will provide more PR and more sales than those Daily Mail adverts ever would.
Kellogg’s also stood up to conservative news site Breitbart, who kicked up a fuss, asking readers to boycott them. As a result, Kelloggs were then on news sites across the world. What a PR team. Ultimately it is a ploy to retain shock sales in an ailing print media industry. In the long run though, this strategy turns more people off than it brings in. There are questions over some US brands ability to reach out and identify with working and middle classes and the same can begin to be said of some UK brands.
The US election and the European referendum results were very reflective of what B2C advertising has become. Products are sold on an emotional level and based on benefits, not based on features and facts. That’s what Trump managed to achieve. He understood the issues of working and middle class people who had seen globalisation deteriorate American jobs, and connected with them emotionally from the outset. Whether or not he is able to provide detailed policy behind those emotions is beyond the point. The point is that he made that connection and created his ‘brand awareness’ as their saviour well before Hilary Clinton ever could. He applied business and advertising sensibilities to the political campaigning world and succeeded in rising to the top.
He ran on being ‘authentic’. The point was not whether or not he was, but the fact that he said he was. It’s reflective of a wider trend towards authenticity and its appeal to normal people. Brands like TalkTalk, Iceland and Aviva in the UK alone have benefited hugely simply by reflecting their consumers properly in their advertising. We also see it in the push towards ‘micro-influencers’ who are seen as more relatable and trustworthy by consumers. They don’t necessarily have to be more like the average consumer or more relatable. What matters is that they appear to do so and consumers feel that way; and Trump is a pure reflection of that.
As Trump moves into the White House, people from all points of view will continue to expect and demand results more and more from both him, other politicians and brands across the globe. Bells and whistles no longer apply, consumers and people want things done, and they want them done now.
Written by Andrew Thomson