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6 Brands Playing Footsie with Conservatives and Paying the Price

Companies have to do the right thing -- not the right-wing thing -- if they want to stick around.
 
 
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Chick-fil-A might have gotten a nice, one-day sales boost with "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," but tying a national brand to aging white bigots is not a winning strategy – and the numbers prove it. Executives. directors and managers of American corporations take note: If your company is playing footsie with right-wing ideologues it can harm your company and your career. People are seriously fed up with companies that support and fund these right wingers, and brand-equity tracking surveys prove it. Here are 6 examples of companies and organizations that have flushed their brands down the right-wing toilet.

1. Chick-fil-A Brand Damage

Last month Chick-fil-A’s CEO made public statements insulting and condemning America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens and their right to marry. For obvious reasons this provoked a national, negative reaction. Conservatives tried to salvage the situation this week by putting on a big show of support with their "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," trying to make it appear as if it is good for a company to line itself up with far-right groups. These right wingers might be celebrating what seems to be a good day for a chicken sandwich chain, but common sense -- and the numbers -- clearly say something different.

Chick-fil-A is engaged in a PR effort to lead people to think that conservative support is helping the company, but according to YouGov's BrandIndex the company's "brand health" has dropped to its lowest levels in years. In their release, Chick-Fil-A takes a hit with fast food eaters, BrandIndex explains,

Chick-Fil-A's perception with fast food eaters nationwide has taken a significant hit in most regions of the US ... since president and COO Dan Cathy's perceived anti-gay remarks on July 16th.

... On July 16th, the day the Baptist Press published its Dan Cathy interview, Chick-Fil-A's Index score was 65, a very substantial 19 points above the Top National QSR Sector average score that day of 46. Four days later, Chick-Fil-A had fallen to 47 score... This past Wednesday, Chick-Fil-A had a 39 score...

This makes sense, considering that polling shows that the very demographic groups a company like Chick-fil-A wants to attract overwhelmingly support the right of gay and lesbian Americans to marry. According to  recent Pew polling, for example the prized 18-29 demographic (they buy stuff) favors gay marriage by 65 percent to 30 percent.

But Chick-fil-A is doing great with the aging, white bigot crowd (they don’t buy stuff)! Opposition to gay marriage gets great numbers among the 65+ crowd (31% favor, 56% oppose) and conservative Republicans (75% favor, 16% oppose) but almost every other demographic group favors gay marriage, and Chick-fil-A’s position puts them well behind the curve. Is tying themselves to a dying demographic of angry white bigots really a winning long term brand strategy? (Hey, that sounds like a certain political party, too!)

2. Komen for the Cure: The Gold Standard For Brand Damage

Right now it's Chick-fil-A in the news for damaging its brand by playing footsie with the far right. But Chick-fil-A is hardly the first company or organization to self-destruct this way. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure® foundation is the gold standard for right-wing-footsie brand destruction.

Komen for the Cure was the premier charitable brand in the world. People used to give through their noses supporting Komen for the Cure’s Race for the Cure, and buying pink-ribbon Komen-branded wristbands, clothing, gifts and other merchandise. Then, in a move to please the conservative right, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation pulled funding from Planned Parenthood. The result was that  according to a Harris Poll EquiTrend® Study, Komen’s "brand equity" dropped 21 percent, one of the most dramatic plummets in brand-equity ever.

 
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