The upcoming presidential election has caused more turmoil and conflict than other election processes in recent history. Corporations are wary about showing support for one candidate or another given the volatility of the campaign trail. Many corporations have chosen to stay silent to prevent tarnishing their brand’s reputation and good standing in society given the amount of controversy surrounding this election cycle.
Obligated to Donate
It is very easy for a brand to feel obligated to donate funds to a candidate’s political campaign. It is even harder to say no when the candidate expresses interest in the brand or is a fan of the brand. These obligations can lead brands to go against its own morals and standards for a bit more media attention. What some brands do not realize is – doing so can completely backfire causing major losses of revenue.
It is better for a brand to locate a non-brand-related individual to make the contribution from the individual to remain anonymous. Keeping a corporation’s name off of a contribution is easier said than done.
Consumers have strong political opinions. If a brand they regularly support endorses a political client they are against, it causes conflict. Not only can this cause damage to a brand’s reputation but it can also bruise the brand’s represented values as well. Consumers may speak loudly regarding their thoughts of the political candidate being supported by a brand or members of a brand.
Consumers may stop patronizing a business if they do not agree with its political stance. Political agenda is something that businesses should keep private to prevent tension and decreased sales. When it comes to politics, consumers have a very strong opinion of who the right and wrong candidates are. Some consumers go as far as to individually protest by stopping support of a brand by not making purchases of their products and seeking alternate sources.
All it takes is one person posting online that they are not purchasing from brand X because of its political views. It can easily go viral and become an onslaught of negativity that is difficult to recover from.
Bruises Brand Reputation
Supporting a political candidate strongly can change some of your customers’ perceptions of the company. When word spreads through private conversations with other customers with the same views, a lot of damage can be done locally in a small amount of time. However, supporting the wrong candidate and one who doesn’t have a strong online reputation management plan, in the eyes of your customer-base, can turn off local consumers and heavily tarnish the company’s reputation. It is important to run damage control protocol at all time to protect the brand’s reputation, even if a disclosure stating that the support of a particular political candidate does not reflect the corporate values of the brand as a whole.
Supporting Controversial Candidates
A corporation supporting a controversial candidate can result in serious negative hit to a brand’s reputation. An example of this is brands currently supporting Hillary Clinton, who is accused of being careless with sensitive information by using a private server, not monitored by the federal government. Consumers and other brands can see supporting this candidate as believing that someone putting sensitive information at risk is not responsible enough to run the United States.
Political Contribution Pressure
Corporations can feel pressure to donate to political campaigns. In the corporate world, some call this “soft money”, which can be difficult to funnel to a campaign in support of a candidate anonymously. Corporations attempting to make anonymous political contributions are often ousted in leaked reports. There is a paper trail regardless of how well a corporation tries to make something, especially a monetary political campaign contribution, stay behind the scenes.
Disclosure of Political Spending
Corporations, especially those with shareholders, are using disclosure methods to protect themselves. Political spending disclosures are in-place so that consumers and those working with brands are aware that political campaign contributions are dispersed at the discretion of the brand. It is reported that 88-percent of corporate board members agree that all companies should disclose all political spending. In most cases, the disclosures also include a statement regarding the agendas of the candidate contributed to are not necessarily sharing the beliefs of the brand.
Businesses often get involved in supporting political campaigns but do so privately to prevent reputation tarnishing and controversy. Negative publicity can affect a brand’s sales for a long-term period of time. It can be difficult to overcome major controversy that tarnishes how consumers see the brand. Some corporate managers say that politics should be kept out of the workplace as a form of brand and employee protection.