I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: national brands (that have nothing to do with politics) should NOT insert themselves into the middle of political issues.  To me, this doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint. You risk losing and alienating half of consumers.

brands and politics

A consumer should not know a brand ‘s (again, with the exception of strictly political brands and organizations) political leanings. Unless you want to pigeonhole your brand or company into one side of the political aisle or the other and only go after a certain segment, this is just not a wise idea. I’m certainly not the only one that agrees with this sentiment.

 A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlights this exact issue, saying “experts in Cannes say brands should resist temptation to weigh in on hot-button issues”. Due to the current political climate throughout the world (and more specifically in America) and the divisiveness relating to politics, this move is now risker than ever. Speaking at a panel event hosted by The Wall Street Journal, advertising and market research executives said they recognize the temptation for companies to weigh in on political issues in an attempt to connect with consumers. But they warned that it’s almost impossible to strike the right note in an era when the internet backlash against advertisers’ missteps is quicker and more fierce than ever.

Advertisers should be “combative” to get customers’ attention without being too overly or intentionally political. There are plenty of recent examples that show that the internet is full of people ready to give backlash over ads perceived as being too political or too “distasteful”, including Budweiser’s Super Bowl “Immigrant” ad, and Pepsi’s failed attempt at social/political commentary with their ill-received Kendal Jenner ads.

 Brands shouldn’t try to force themselves into political discussions is some consumers would be surprised to see them doing so. Like I said earlier, most brands want to sell their products to as many people as possible, regardless of which side of the political aisle they lean towards.

We, as consumers, don’t necessarily want brands like PepsiBudweiser, Starbucks or McDonalds to get involved in these type of conversations. Brands: stick to what you know. Unless you are a brand or organization that has politics embedded in your DNA, just stay focused on what your brand is about. For Pepsi, that’s providing consumers with a delicious, refreshing drink. For Budweiser, it’s helping millions of American’s relaxant have a good time with an ice cold beer. That’s how it should remain. I don’t need to know what your views are on certain hot-button political issues, and you shouldn’t need to tell me. It’s just overall bad for business. Don’t ask, don’t tell. It works!

This blog was originally written by Aaron Lee and published on his website at www.aaronjlee.co