Social Media is a terrific platform for brands to increase followers, drive engagement, and try to keep ahead of their competition in this continuously changing landscape. It’s the ideal medium to post new and relevant content for consumers to engage with, but sometimes requires the additional involvement of their seasonal surroundings. Whether it’s involving the joyous celebrations of Christmas, the must needed summer breaks or the festive Halloween decorations, it’s fair to say the one season to avoid as a whole is the election season.
During this period it’s best advised for brands to steer clear from any political affiliation as it is guaranteed to receive intentional or accidental negative feedback.
Take the recent 2016 election season, three brands have been in the headlines for the wrong reasons regarding politics: Pepsi, New Balance, and Kellogs.
Advertising company Taykey has observed, recorded, and analyzed the social media impact on the brands based on their individual involvements.
Pepsi: Trump supporters called for a boycott in mid-November after Pepsi’s CEO, Indra Nooyi, reportedly commented that her employees were in mourning after the election results. This was followed by fake news stories claiming she also told Trump supporters to “take their businesses elsewhere.” Taykey reported that conversation volume increased by 50% but drove social media sentiment down by 93%.
New Balance: Also in mid-November, New Balance’s VP of Public Affairs Matt LeBretton was misinterpreted as a Trump supporter after commenting that “things are going to move in the right direction” in regards to President-elect Trump’s views on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). People went on social media to share their outrage by posting pictures and videos of them burning New Balance shoes. Taykey reported that conversation volume increased by 100% but with a decline of brand sentiment by 75%. It didn’t help that white supremacist website, The Daily Stormer, published an article praising the shoe company for being the “official brand of the Trump revolution.”
Kellogg: Last but certainly not least, Kellogg’s got caught in the most epic of $h!t storms by pulling out advertisements from alt-right website Breitbart, founded by Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon. The pullout certainly had the opposite reaction Kellogg’s was hoping for, as Breitbart launched a boycott campaign on Kellogg’s products coined: #DumpKellogs. Taykey reported that the boycott increased conversation volume by 99% and brand sentiment (unsurprisingly) decreased by 75%. However, in this instance, the damage isn’t temporary as negative feedback continuously appears on the brand’s social. The company really underestimated the power of Breitbart News and their 45 million monthly readers on and off Social Media, as the WSJ reported that since the boycott campaign, “Kellogg shares have underperformed peers General Mills and Post Holdings by 4.4 and 11.5 points, respectively.”
Most of these brands will recover with little damage, not certain about Kellogg’s but my thoughts are with them. Hopefully, that’ll be a lesson learned and can be avoided during the next season in four years time.