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Communications Social Media Marketing Donald Trump

Brand Trump: Could Donald Trump's no holds barred rhetoric seep into America's most beloved brands?

By Matt Spector, Advisor

January 28, 2016 | 3 min read

It is the era of Brand Trump. Whatever happens in November, we’re looking not only at an election cycle that dramatically upends expectations, but a sea change in the ways the American party system functions – and how Americans think about their country.

Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch

Donald Trump

Trump walked from tonight’s GOP debate on Fox News for a host of reasons, the least of which seemed to be unresolved beef with anchor Megyn Kelly. All eyes will be on Trump’s competing event in Iowa.

Conservative substance and consternation has failed to overwhelm the bluster. Coiffed and boisterously uncouth, this is the violent end and gasping breath of the white male majority – loud, angry, insatiable and light on the details.

In the midst of this change, could a brand take a page from the Trump playbook? Perhaps the products we adore are just meant to adhere to our basest instincts, and perhaps it is our human nature to seize a world in which rudeness is commonplace and where our goods forego Western propriety full stop.

We are entering an age where these conventions and niceties are upended, if not discarded completely – will the backslide in political rhetoric coincide with a backslide to the days where coarseness was commonplace?

Following the lead of the nation’s loudest capitalist, those who shroud in the niceties of social marketing and brand storytelling their uncouth business practices and brand messages might take a page and eschew political correctness.

“Please buy our sugary cereal, and enjoy the diabetes – it’s just business.”

“Industrially-farmed chicken – deliciously unethical.”

“We actually don’t really want women of a certain age buying this shirt, thank you very much.”

“Boldly, inauthentically unnatural potato chips.”

Going beyond GoDaddy’s winking TV spots, we might see a Super Bowl spot that seizes sentiment and delivers a brutally honest, completely un-PC message. Right or wrong, is the public ready?

A world where every brand and business behaves like Trump isn’t so far-off. Whoever doles out the boldest punches during Thursday night’s debate – we should expect Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie to continue to hammer the issues and one another for the shot at the establishment crown, and Megyn Kelly to continue to affirm her journalistic bona fides – anything resembling rationality has gone completely out the window.

What happens in Monday’s caucuses in Iowa is anyone’s best guess; and we are entering what even the most conservative pundits have deemed uncertain territory in our electoral politics. Might the same sentiment – Brand Trump – infect our most beloved American brands?

Matt Spector is the principal of BowBridge.co, an advisory to UN Refugee Agency, Unicef and social change organizations and brands. Formerly of Havas and the change agency SS+K, He tweets @mspec.

Communications Social Media Marketing Donald Trump

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