Support for Trump finally begins to give way, and brands speak up: Friday Wake-Up Call
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Less than two weeks before the end of his four-year term, the infrastructure that has propped up Donald Trump is beginning to crumble. Social media, his preferred platform and long a safe space for him, has finally started to tune him out.
Facebook extended its original 24-hour ban to at least past the inauguration, and Twitch disabled the president’s account indefinitely. While Trump’s Twitter account is active again, it’s on thin ice. “The events in Washington on Wednesday served as a stark ‘I told you so’ for the people who have continually protested social media’s role in spreading disinformation and its potential to cause violence,” writes Ad Age’s Garett Sloane. The responses to Trump’s deplatforming range from “I can’t believe it’s come to this” to “Too little, too late.”
YouTube has also enacted a stronger policy against claims of election fraud. Accounts that claim the election was stolen or rigged with receive a “strike,” with subsequent offenses leading to an outright ban. For his part, Trump tweeted a video contradicting his statements from the day before. "The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy," he says in the video. "To those who engaged in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country."
But brands are beginning to find their voices. Coca-Cola called the riots “an offense to the ideals of American democracy.” Seventh Generation called efforts to undermine the election results “racist.” Chevron, Verizon and Bank of America shared statements on Twitter, and socially responsible stalwart Ben & Jerry’s called for impeachment.
“Yesterday was not a protest—it was a riot to uphold white supremacy,” Ben & Jerry’s tweeted. “The ice-cream brand goes on to explain how the world saw ‘two Americas’ on January 6: One with ‘record voter turnout driven by Black voters that resulted in the election of the first Black and first Jewish senators from the state of Georgia—our democracy at its best,’ and another with a ‘mostly white mob, encouraged by the president, violently invade the seat of our democracy in an attempt to overturn a free and fair election,’” writes Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing.
The political fallout of the Capitol riots has been swift. Some Republicans members of Congress that had been planning to object to the election results declined to do so. A slew of indignant resignations ensued, including a deputy White House press secretary, a cybersecurity official, the deputy national security adviser, former acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Transportation Secretary (and wife of Mitch McConnell) Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
That set off a wave of anger on social media, that only now did these people think the president had gone too far. More cynical observers and pundits note that it’s a good time to get some distance from Trump if you want a future in politics. And resigning from the cabinet means not having to decide whether to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, as Democratic leadership is calling for Vice-President Mike Pence to do.
Marketers, though, should consider how to treat people leaving the administration, especially those who enabled the rhetoric that led to the riots. The New York Times notes that the Blackstone Group’s Steve Schwarzman and Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Safra Catz have long been Trump boosters. For all the talk of brand purpose and accountability, there hasn’t yet been fallout for executives who had a hand behind the scenes.
Poor Burger King’s retro rebrand almost got lost in the commotion this week, but it looks cool. Er, hip. Groovy? “The project, in the works for about two years, updates the logo introduced in 1969 and first updated in 1994 which shows the words Burger King written in red lettering nestled in a bun,” writes Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl.
The 1999 design the brand had been using doesn’t play well online. “A cleaner, simplified look is what brands need for visual cues on mobile phones and in cluttered social media feeds.” The updated font is dubbed “Flame,” and the color scheme features food-related names like “BBQ Brown” and “Mayo Egg White.”
Rocket man: Elon Musk overtook Amazon’s Jeff Bezos as the richest person in the world when Tesla’s stock price jumped 4.8%. At $188.5 billion, Musk’s fortune has skyrocketed in the last year, rising $150 billion in 12 months. That’s par for the course for the world’s wealthy. The five richest people gained a combined total of $1.8 trillion, in the midst of a global depression and historic levels of sickness and unemployment.
Clipped wings: Boeing has been charged with criminal conspiracy after investigations into the crashes of two 737 Max airplanes that killed 346 people determined the company concealed information from regulators. Boeing will pay a $2.5 billion fine as part of a legal settlement with the Justice Department.
I feel like chicken tonight: The chicken wars are just reheating up. KFC rolled out its quarter-pound fried chicken sandwich, six weeks before McDonald’s unveils its own offering. Available “seven days a week,” unlike rival Chick-fil-A’s sandwich, KFC’s version should benefit from the chain’s long association with battered birds. But as ever, Popeyes is still lurking, with a strong social media game to boot.
That does it for today’s Wake-Up Call. Thanks for reading, and we hope you are all staying safe and well. For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter: @adage.
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