How food and beverage companies can steer clear of — or embrace — the political fray

Dive Brief:

  • The aftermath of this year's presidential election has led to calls for boycotts of a variety of food and retail brands from both sides of the political spectrum, according to Civil Eats.
  • Companies can choose to either avoid political discourse whenever possible or they can embrace the current political climate and become more active and vocal participants.
  • Brands may also consider developing more nuanced crisis communication strategies to deal with potential conflicts that could arise with the new administration.

Dive Insight:

Mondelez's Oreo brand and Kellogg have experienced the fallout from appearing in the political spotlight firsthand in the past year. President-elect Donald Trump called for a boycott of Oreo products in response to Mondelez sending many of its factory jobs to its plant in Mexico. Kellogg became the focus of a #DumpKelloggs social media campaign and flurry of news stories after the company pulled its ad dollars from Trump advisor Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News last month.

While this may be deemed negative publicity for a company or brand, the high-riding emotions don't seem to have impacted sales for Oreo. Mondelez claims that brand sales didn't reflect the widespread call for a boycott of its products. For Kellogg, it's still too soon to tell.

This seems to reinforce the debated sentiment that there's no such thing as bad publicity. And in the case of the current president-elect, his sizable group of opponents could respond to Trump supporters' calls for boycotts with the opposite reaction.

Food and beverage companies can easily be politicized, so brands will have to decide for themselves whether to become involved should they be the next visible target. But with a crisis communication strategy tailored to the online and social media platforms the president-elect and his supporters tend to use to promote their viewpoints, companies can be more confident that these calls for boycotts won't necessarily be as damaging as they might fear.

Filed Under: Corporate Policy Marketing
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