Today’s polarized political environment is increasingly impacting brand marketers, illustrated in dramatic fashion by Nike’s decision to launch a controversial campaign featuring ex-NFL player and anthem-kneeling pioneer Colin Kaepernick. So far, the ad campaign has led to higher sales and company stock price, despite many pundits’ predictions of a negative backlash. It appears Nike’s deep understanding of its target market was a key factor in the initial success of the campaign, as its share of positive word of mouth grew.
The intersection between brand marketing and politics is illustrated in a new way as social intelligence data and analytics company Engagement Labs has released an online quiz based on its data indicating that the advocates of many brands also lean strongly toward either Democrats or Republicans.
“Some brand allegiances are obvious, such as Democrats recommending MSNBC and Republicans recommending Fox News among cable news channels. But many other brands have advocates who lean red or blue as well, and are harder to guess,” said Engagement Labs’ chief commercial officer Brad Fay, in a news release. “Do Republicans or Democrats recommend Allstate for insurance? What about State Farm? And which party’s supporters are more likely to travel booking sites Hotels.com and Trivago? These are all brands that lean red or blue, and factor into the new Engagement Labs quiz.”
Engagement Labs created the quiz, called “Do You Live in a Political Brand Bubble?” drawing from its TotalSocial data platform that contains online and offline consumer conversation data of routinely recommended brands that lean left or right in terms of their most ardent fans. The results on whether the quiz-takers are living in a Democratic or Republican “Brand Bubble,” links to Engagement Labs study at the end of the quiz.
“Some brands are getting involved with politics willingly, as in the Nike example, but others have been drawn in unwillingly, such as Nordstrom when they were criticized by President Trump for dropping the Ivanka Trump brand from their stores and catalog,” said Fay. “Our quiz is meant to highlight one critical factor—the importance of knowing your audience. Before deciding whether to jump into the political fray, brands really need to do their homework and figure out whether their target markets leans left or right, and it’s not always obvious.”
Another brand that made a political calculation, Dick’s Sporting Goods, wrongly predicted they would lose business when they stopped selling assault weapons in the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting tragedy. CEO Edward Stackpublicly predicted revenues would suffer for having made a decision based on corporate ethics, but Engagement Labs measured more positive offline sentiment for the brand that ultimately led to a higher stock price for the company.
Take the quiz here. Quiz-takers can share their results by tagging @EngagementLabs and #PoliticalBrandBubble on Facebook and Twitter, and invite their friends and family to learn more about their political allegiance based on the brands they recommend.