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Speak out about politics or stay silent? Either way, brands can’t win

Local businesses might be able to get away with it. Alcohol companies? Not so much.

Speak out about politics or stay silent? Either way, brands can’t win
[Image: champc/iStock]
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When it comes to speaking about politics, or just the political divisions in America, it’s a no-win situation for brands—a real “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” That according to the global data intelligence firm Morning Consult. The firm has released the results of a survey polling Americans whether it was right for brands to take a political stance. Unsurprisingly, the results were divisive.

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When respondents were asked if they thought it was appropriate for brands to comment on social media about America’s political divisions, the majority of respondents said it was inappropriate—however, that call varied by the type of business in question. A majority of consumers said it was appropriate for only two types of brands to comment about political divisions on social media: local businesses and media companies. For each, 53% of respondents said it was appropriate while 47% of respondents said it was not.

Here’s how it played out for other companies:

  • 46% found it appropriate for these types of companies to comment on political divisions on social media: financial institutions and software companies
  • 44% found it appropriate for these types of companies to comment on political divisions on social media: airlines, auto brands, clothing companies, packaged food brands, fast food chains, food delivery companies
  • 43% found it appropriate for these types of companies to comment on political divisions on social media: beauty brands, fitness brands, and home-sharing companies

Respondents said it was least appropriate for soda brands, ride-hailing companies, and alcohol brands to comment on political divisions on social media, with only 42%, 40%, and 39% saying it was appropriate, respectively.

However, if brands do decide to speak out about political divisions, how they choose to matters as well. According to the survey, 69% of respondents said the message should be heartfelt, followed by unifying (67%), serious (66%), unique (64%), and short (63%).

And surprising no one, considering how divided the country seems to be, Morning Consult’s survey found that 52% of respondents said any social media messages about political divisions should be conservative in approach, while 51% said it should be liberal.

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Morning Consult conducted the survey between January 15-18, 2021, among 2,200 U.S. adults. You can see the full survey results data here.

About the author

Michael Grothaus is a novelist, journalist, and former screenwriter. His debut novel EPIPHANY JONES is out now from Orenda Books. You can read more about him at MichaelGrothaus.com

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