- New Balance customers are reacting to a perceived Trump endorsement from the brand by posting images of New Balance shoes getting trashed or even set on fire, according to Mashable.
- Outrage was first sparked from a tweet by Wall Street Journal reporter Sara Germano, which quoted an NB spokesperson saying: “The Obama admin turned a deaf ear to us & frankly w/ Pres-Elect Trump we feel things are going to move in the right direction."
- According to Germano, the tweet specifically referred to the Trans-Pacific Partnership bill, a free trade agreement that Trump opposed while campaigning. New Balance, which manufactures many of its products in the U.S., is presumably against certain aspects of the TPP.
These developments point to how marketers may make some missteps as they try to find the right tone and messaging following an election that has left half of the population feeling alienated from government and other institutions.
New Balance's support of Trump's policies regarding TPP arguably make some sense from a business perspective, but airing the opinion publicly — and claiming the Obama administration turned a "deaf ear" in the process — inserted itself into the political discourse, something the brand is likely wishing now it had avoided.
Any brand that dabbles in politics is bound to receive a degree of backlash, and President-elect Trump ran an often highly divisive, non-traditional campaign, ensuring reactions this time around may be more heated —sometimes literally.
New Balance: "The Obama admin turned a deaf ear to us & frankly w/ Pres-Elect Trump we feel things are going to move in the right direction"— Sara Germano (@germanotes) November 9, 2016
Marketers cannot assume consumers are approaching political issues from the same perspective their brand is, and New Balance has potentially alienated the significant portions of the country that did not vote Trump.
This is a heightened risk any brand faces going forward: Trump's own business has taken a major image hit across demographic groups for his often inflammatory comments, so endorsements of the president-elect can expect to face similar backlash.