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Keurig and the challenges of remaining non-partisan in a polarized market

An opinion piece in Ad Age claims that brands should remain non-partisan and avoid "siding with right-wing sites". It depends on what you mean by "right sites," but it's now easier to say than to do.

The Keurig Coffeemaker, which was one of five brands to draw commercials from Sean Hannity's Fox TV program after his controversial interview with Alabama's Senate candidate and alleged mugger. Roy Moore's children, is a good example. Hannity has undoubtedly created a platform for Moore to discredit his accusers and rehabilitate himself. The program was actually an extension of Moore's campaign and messaging.

The danger of continuing to support the Hannity program was that some of these marks would be considered to implicitly tolerate Moore's alleged actions (pedophilia). How is it going for a brand association?

After Keurig (and others) withdrew sponsorship from the program, Moore's or Hannity-loyal viewers started destroying their Keurig machines and posting the videos on Twitter, with the message "Offend a liberal. "

This may be an extreme case, but it is also increasingly representative of the state of American politics and challenges for brands. In many cases, remaining indifferent to politics (as suggested in the Ad Age article) may amount to supporting causes and beliefs that are well outside the mainstream (eg, hate speech, crimes). sex). This is partly because American politics has become much more polarized and the principles are often sacrificed to tribalism.

Activists on the left and right have adopted a tactic to publicly embrace or boycott brands because of their actual or implicit affiliation with specific causes or positions. White supremacists and right-wing ones have embraced a whole range of brands (for example, Papa John's Pizza, New Balance shoes and others) and have sought to boycott Kellogg, Starbucks and Nordstrom, among others, because they took a stand against Trump or his policies of administration.

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Indeed, the election of Trump, the corresponding rise of the far right and a more militant left made it virtually impossible for brands to avoid politics. Brands have become the target of political pressure. The left sees public shame and boycotts as a means of influencing policies at a time when the government is not addressing their concerns.

Moreover, in this polarized climate, more and more consumers want to buy brands that share their ethics and beliefs. And Trump himself has lagging marks that he does not like for one reason or another. The situation has become much more complex and complex.

The Ad Age piece proposes a solution and a way forward: "Focusing on consumer behavior related to results more closely than the political trend of a site on which an ad appears." For mainstream sites, this is a good tip. But there is a danger of being unintentionally identified with unsavory or extreme views by passivity (eg, Hannity's advertisers do not do anything).

At the time of brand danger like this, companies must be vigilant. We may never come back to a time when brands can really be "non-partisan" or apolitical in the broadest sense of the word.

Brand security is a huge problem right now. Whatever it is, it's good for brands to adopt ethical positions on important issues – I'm not talking about endorsing candidates, I'm talking about not supporting hate or the criminal conduct.

This is not really a question of left versus right; it's a matter of principle.