Category Archives: Branding

Donald Trump’s Communications Strategy – Is the End Near?

Businessman and Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump continues to dominate the media as he has since announcing for president. His latest firestorm is his proposal to ban Muslims seeking to enter the United States. Trump made his proposal as the focus of the campaign has shifted to terrorism following the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California. Trump’s proposal has created a firestorm with fellow candidates, House Speaker Paul Ryan, former Vice President Dick Cheney, foreign leaders, and the White House all condemning it. Pundits are predicting this latest from Trump will spell his demise. Yet despite this, Trump is not backing down and all campaign coverage is about him drowning out his opponents. So far voters are still backing him and in many ways he seems to have a better understanding of what is motivating voters than experienced politicians.

So how should Trump proceed from a communications point on this proposal?

  1. Ignore his critics and stand by his proposal. His proposal is audacious, outrageous, decisive, unrepentant, and brash all in one. It also falls in line with what the Trump brand is all about and why so many voters have bought into it.
  2. Continue in his interviews and the upcoming debates to point out that his plan is no more extreme than Franklin Delano Roosevelt interning Japanese-Americans during World War II. But go beyond that and point out that we are engaged in a real war with radical Islam and during previous times of war that American leaders have gone to extreme – Lincoln suspending habeas corpus during the Civil War and Woodrow Wilson jailing war critics and deporting radicals during World War I.
  3. Point out that the job of the President is to save lives and if his action saves one American life and thwarts one terror attack the price is worth it.
  4. Point out that his proposal is for the duration of the war against ISIS and then will expire.
  5. Point out that the Obama Administration has failed not only to destroy but even contain ISIS.
  6. Emphasize that we are war and war is not pretty or politically correct.
  7. State that he is who he is, he isn’t politically correct but a decisive leader and this is what this nation needs.
  8. Challenge his critics to show a plan that would be foolproof to prevent terrorists from entering the nation.

Donald Trump has billed his candidacy on the fact that he isn’t politically correct but is a strong leader in a time that America needs just that. With his master showmanship, he has caught the attention of voters by appealing to them on the issues that matter most to them in language that they understand. He has shown that he knows the most important rule of communications – know your audience, a fact the other candidates have failed to grasped. If he communicates his latest proposal convincingly, not only will he be poised to win the Republican nomination but perhaps the White House as well.

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The Republican Party’s Trump Messaging Strategy – What’s Next?

Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump has set off yet again another media firestorm. The Republican frontrunner has called for all Muslims seeking to enter the United States to be barred from doing so. This came as the focus of the presidential campaign has turned to terrorism after the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California and what many see as the Obama Administration’s ineffectual response to the war on terror. Polls show anti-Muslim sentiment on the rise in the United States as a result of the attacks. Trump’s Republican rivals many condemned his proposal as have other leading Republicans such as former Vice President Cheney. Florida Congressman David Jolly, a candidate for the United States Senate has called for Trump to withdraw from the presidential race because of his stand. Pundits believe that this stunt will cost both Trump and the Republican Party.

So what should the Republican message be in response to Donald Trump?

  1. Condemn him and his antics once and for all as having no place within the Republican Party. They have become a distraction from serious issues facing the nation.
  2. Refuse to let him participate in the debates. One of the sources of Trump’s success is his access to free media especially the debates.
  3. Have House Speaker Paul Ryan address the nation on the Republican position on the war against terror.
    1. Ryan should point out we are not at war against Muslims but radical Islam in the form of ISIS. In doing so, he should point out how during the Cold War, every President from Truman to Reagan made the point that it was the Soviet system of government not the Russian people that were opposed too. In World War II, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Dwight Eisenhower made it clear that it was the Axis leadership not the peoples of Japan, Germany, and Italy.
    2. That discriminating against any religion or ethnicity is wrong and goes against not only the values of America but that upon which the Party of Abraham Lincoln was founded.
    3. Explain that this is a war and there will be civilian casualties. It can’t be fought by words but by strong actions and define how Republicans if elected will differ from both Donald Trump and President Obama in prosecuting and winning the war.
    4. Arrange for Republican leaders and figures from the Reagan and the two Bush Administrations along with Tea Party leaders to address the Trump issue and state that his words are an insult to the memory of Ronald Reagan and if Reagan was alive today he would denounce Trump.
    5. Dare Donald Trump to run as an independent if he wants too but let him and the American people know there is no room for him in the Republican Party.
    6. Use humor to belittle him not his followers.

Donald Trump is a showman and also a bully. In some ways he is reminiscent of Joe McCarthy. Attacking him as Republicans have done by treating him as an equal and with seriousness has failed. Rather they should take a page out of their two greatest post-war Presidents – Eisenhower and Reagan. Isolate Trump and use humor at his expense, in doing that and the above mentioned strategy, Trumpamania will disappear and Republicans will be stronger with America at large and it will be their Sister Soulja moment.

Black Friday Branding Blunders

The Friday after Thanksgiving has been branded Black Friday in the public’s consciousness for years as an integral part of the traditional holiday season as the Macy’s Day Parade, Santa Claus, and Thanksgiving. For decades it has signaled the start of the holiday season for retailers with a strong Black Friday signaling strong holiday sales and signs of a robust economy. Consumers have flooded the stores waiting for coveted specials that come but once a year. Retailers have started opening earlier and earlier each year. Now many retailers are open on Thanksgiving Day with some beginning Black Friday sales days and weeks ahead of Thanksgiving. In this day of online shopping many are offering Black Friday discounts online so the consumer can do all of their holiday shopping from the ease of their computer without even leaving home. Plus for those online shoppers who want to wait a bit, there is now Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving for the best online deals.

So from a branding point are retailers hurting themselves with the way they have extended Black Friday? The answer is a resounding yes.

First Black Friday was branded as the day for the best holiday sales that happened but once a year that nothing could compete against. Today consumers no longer believe that. Black Friday is not a special event it has become like one of the billboards you pass time and time again and stop paying attention to after a while. The day no longer has meaning to consumers who begin seeing Black Friday advertised days if not weeks before Thanksgiving itself. So the credibility of retailers who claim that Black Friday deals are the best of the year is strained.

Next retailers stood out and enhanced their brand identity with their fabled Black Friday sales. Consumers would brave the elements to show their loyalty to a retailer who offered those exclusive sales, today all the sales seem the same and the retailers all seem the same except for those who differentiate themselves from the crowd.

Yet retailers that opt to do the opposite are building deeper brand loyalty and attracting even more consumers. Consumers today look for more than just the cheapest price, they buy into a brand’s story and its beliefs. REI made headlines when its announced that its stores would be closed on Black Friday. That move directly appealed to its consumers who frequent the store not for its sales and products (although that plays a role) as much as for what the retailer stands for in this world. Likewise Nordstrom garnered media attention by announcing that its stores would not only be closed Thanksgiving but there would be no holiday decorations in the stores until after Thanksgiving. Discount retailers, Marshall’s, T.J. Maxx, and Homegoods have mounted massive advertising campaigns reminding consumers of Thanksgivings long ago and that all of their stores will be closed Thanksgiving. These retailers and others like them stand out to consumers. Consumers are more likely to seek these brands out on Black Friday as they buy into the story that the discounts offered mean something and that the brand itself is more about profits and the bottom line. Additionally, this strategy is likely to develop brand loyalty not only during the holidays but year round.

Black Friday as we know it may be close to disappearing. Yet retailers and brands that are savvy will honor the tradition knowing that it is smart way to stand out from competitors but beyond that build long lasting consumer loyalty.

Starbucks Red Cup Controversy? A Publicity Score!

Unless a person has been totally hidden from social media or traditional media, they know that Starbucks has unveiled its Christmas season cup. The cup is plain red with the Starbucks logo emblazoned on it. The company kept it simple with the traditional colors of the season in an effort to foster inclusiveness and diversity it claimed. The reaction has been incredible. Many claiming to be leading Christians blasted the company for omitting traditional holiday messages on the cup as in pervious years or missing the reason of the season. In fact the Starbucks holiday cup has been one of the biggest stories on social media and in traditional media. The Starbucks holiday cup has been of the most frequent searches on Google. Starbucks has emerged as a branding winner in this story.

How were they able to make this controversy a winner for the brand?

First they were very measured in their response to critics. Rather than ignore the controversy or go into full crisis mode, they were nuanced. On their website they reiterated their main point of why they were doing the simple red cup. For millions who buy into the Starbucks’ brand story that response just reinforced their belief in the brands. For others, it was a non-story not pitting Starbucks against its critics. And the media could not make a bigger story of the controversy from the company’s response so the story continued to be the new holiday cup and not Starbucks versus its critics.

With the increased noise over the Starbucks’ holiday cup, the Starbucks website saw increased traffic. Starbucks with this increased traffic in mind put its holiday offerings – Christmas blend and other products front and center on the website. What a great way to advertise!

Long term as I mentioned it reinforced the brand identity to its loyal customers. Consumers expect their brands to tell a story and share their values. Starbucks in this holiday cup saga reinforced the social values that so many of its loyal consumers have come to expect from the company.

Finally, Starbucks reaped millions in free publicity. It was a major story in all of the media. Social media is still several days later abuzz with the story. People who know little about Starbucks and its various holiday offerings now do. All achieved at very little cost to the company.

Starbucks has emerged as a major winner with its holiday cup saga. Other brands can learn from it.

Thinking About Rebranding? Take A Lesson From The Master Of Rebranding – Richard Nixon

Rebranding. Every company does it. From a new look to its logo to an entirely different image, companies do it to stay competitive and fresh. Subway is rebranding after the Jared Fogle case. They and other companies might want to take a page out of the master of rebranding – Richard Nixon.

Richard Nixon is of course remembered for Watergate. Yet he was actually the master of rebranding. Each election there was a new Nixon that the media and public would buy into. And with that new Nixon brand, he was able to overcome some of the best – Earl Warren, Adlai Stevenson, Nelson Rockefeller, Hubert Humphrey, Ronald Reagan, George Romney, and even battle Jack Kennedy to a draw (or based upon who you believe defeat him).

Richard Nixon began his career as a hard-hitting anti-Communist crusader. Adlai Stevenson described him as a “white collar Joe McCarthy”. Dwight Eisenhower used him as vice president as an attack dog and to appease the hard right of the Republican Party. But he was also seen as a fresh and younger face for Republicans in 1952 even though most of the country knew of him for exposing Alger Hiss as a Soviet spy. In marketing his youth he drew a sharp contrast to his two California rivals who also wanted to be on the ticket with Eisenhower – Earl Warren and William Knowland. Key lessons for brands from this – when rebranding something familiar make it appear new and fresh.

During the 1952 campaign, Nixon was caught in the so-called ‘fund crisis’ where it was revealed that wealthy donors had paid for his travel expenses (which was not illegal). The media and Democrats called for Nixon’s removal from the ticket. Eisenhower remained silent on Nixon’s status and suggested Nixon address the nation. So Nixon with the backing of the Republican National Committee went on television (still in its infancy) and revealed his finances, showing that he was like most Americans, a person of modest means, revealing that Eisenhower’s opponent, Adlai Stevenson also had a fund like his, and concluding with a reference to the dog Checkers that his children had received from a backer and he would not return. The public went wild with support of Nixon. Eisenhower was forced to keep Nixon on the ticket and Stevenson was forced to reveal everything about his fund. Overnight, Nixon became the average American compared to the image that many had of Republicans – the rich uncaring businessman. Nixon knew his audience and appealed to it. Any business rebranding needs to know its target audience and how to appeal to it when rebranding.

After Eisenhower was re-elected president in 1956 with Nixon as vice president, many thought Nixon was unelectable in own right in 1960, as he was seen as too mean and that Republicans might need to nominate someone like Nelson Rockefeller. Nixon set out to prove them wrong. He turned down his rhetoric but even more importantly made himself relevant. He interjected himself into attempts to pass a civil rights bill that led many reporters to consider him a statesman. Then there was the famous kitchen debate where he debated Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev where he was viewed by many as standing up for America. In 1958, with Eisenhower unwilling to campaign for Republicans, Nixon took up the role and appeared as the good Republican endorsing Republicans of all stripes while his emerging rival, Nelson Rockefeller did everything possible to avoid fellow Republicans. Key lesson from this rebrand – make sure that rebranding is tied into relevancy that will make it appear authentic.

Once nominated in 1960, Nixon faced the charismatic Jack Kennedy who was everything Nixon wasn’t – handsome, rich, elegant, eloquent, and Ivy League educated. In the first Nixon and Kennedy debate, Kennedy was declared the winner and even though Nixon battled back in subsequent debates the media believed Kennedy was a lock. Yet on election day, Nixon battled Kennedy to a basic draw (or if tales of the dead voting in Chicago and Texas are true defeated Kennedy). He did this by appealing to voters as who he really was – one of them, not the son of a rich former ambassador (Kennedy) but the son of a grocer who had worked his entire life. And voters believed him. Brands need to remember to be authentic when rebranding.

After losing to Kennedy in 1960, Nixon also lost the governorship of California in 1962 and famously declared to the media, “you won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore”. The media wrote his political obituary. Yet Nixon began work on his comeback. He did this by making himself available to the media. No reporter was too small nor question too inane for him during his so-called ‘wilderness years’. He appeared open and transparent. He cultivated the image of an elder statesman and in a polarized nation someone solidly in the middle. The media declared a new Nixon yet again. The public believed it allowing him to defeat Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney, and even Ronald Reagan for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination and then liberal giant Hubert Humphrey in the general election. Transparency and openness as shown by this Nixon rebranding are a key component for any rebranding.

Even after Watergate, Nixon continued to rebrand himself and the media and public continued to buy it. He was a mater at rebranding and offers lessons that companies can learn from to this day.

Jared Fogle / Subway Saga: The Crash and Burn of a Spokesperson

Jared Fogle has probably eaten his last Subway sandwich for a long time to come. If the restaurant chain has anything to do with it, Fogle will never step foot into another Subway ever again.   Fogle who served as Subway’s public face for 15 years pleaded guilty to child pornography charges. Federal prosecutors said Fogle travelled to have sex acts with at least 14 children. Subway announced it was terminating its relationship with Fogle in a terse statement released on Twitter and Facebook. The Fogle/Subway case shows the dangers of celebrity spokespersons becoming interchangeable with a brand and also on how not to handle a crisis situation.

Jared Fogle shot to fame when his story of losing over 200 pounds went public. Fogle based his weight loss on visiting a Subway restaurant and ordering a low-fat sandwich. From that sandwich on, he dropped more than 200 pounds in about a year while eating Subway’s turkey subs and veggie subs with no mayonnaise and cheese. When Subway learned of his story, he became the face of Subway promoting their healthy alternatives to fast food. His story became the Subway story. Consumers identified with his everyman story and could relate to his weight struggle. Franchise owners reported increased sales when commercials and other promotional material featuring Fogle ran. All told he made over 50 television commercials for the chain. The company hyped him as the perfect family man whose values were those of Subway. To the public, Fogle and Subway were one and the same. Fogle, was known as “Jared from Subway.” His Wikipedia page calls him “the Subway Guy.

On July 7th, that all came crashing down for Fogle and Subway. The FBI, Indiana State Police and the U.S. Postal Service raided Fogle’s home seizing electronic equipment with the clear implication from media reports that he was suspected of being involved in child pornography. A Florida woman came forward and said that Fogle had made remarks to her that were so inappropriate and shocking that she had contacted law enforcement officials. This happened two months after Russell Taylor, the former executive director of the Jared Foundation, which Fogle started to raise awareness to and combat childhood obesity, was arrested on federal child pornography charges. Overnight, Fogle became the punch line for late night comedians with Subway included in the jokes. There was also a sense of public revulsion.

Subway announced it was merely suspending its relationship with Fogle. That was the company’s first mistake. It should have immediately terminated its relationship with Fogle. Whether true or not, there was no way that Fogle could ever again be an effective spokesperson for Subway and the longer the public perceived that Subway was looking to bring him back the more tarnished the brand was. There are three things that a brand or individual never fully recover from – a scandal with animals; a scandal with race; and a scandal with children.

Finally hours before Fogle was due to plead guilty Subway announced via social media, “We no longer have a relationship with Jared and have no further comment.” No expression of sympathy for the 14 victims of Fogle. No expressions of condemnation at Fogle’s actions and the fact that he had lied to the public and Subway when the allegations surfaced. Additionally they referred to Fogle as Jared reinforcing in the public’s mind that longtime association and sense of chumminess with Fogle. That Subway doesn’t even use Fogle’s last name in its post about is a sharp reminder of just how associated with each other the two entities became. Social media has been sharply critical of Subway for its response.

Erasing the image of Jared with Subway will not be easy. After all the two have been associated for 15 years. Yet had Subway terminated its relationship when the investigation began, the company would have been six weeks ahead in rebranding and distancing itself from Fogle. Now they face the worst of both worlds – Fogle is gone and damaged beyond repair; the company must rebrand, and in its handling of the situation came across as curt and uncaring for child victims.

The Fogle/Subway saga is a cautionary tale for any brand that becomes identified with its spokesperson. The brand sinks or swims with that person’s reputation. And in this world of social media, people expect brands to express remorse and regrets during a crisis such as Subway has faced with Fogle.

How Not To Manage A Crisis – TLC

When a crisis hits, a brand wants to respond quickly, sincerely in addressing the crisis and demonstrate how they are working to ensure that what happened will not occur in the future. For example, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the issue of domestic abuse among NFL players within days of the media firestorm and announced the NFL would be working with domestic abuse advocacy groups to bring greater awareness of domestic abuse and its prevention. All of this is essential in rebuilding a brand after a crisis.

TLC, the television network showed what not to do in rebuilding a brand after a crisis. The network has been the subject of severe criticism for its handling (or mishandling) of the scandal involving Josh Duggar of TLC’s number one show, “19 Kids and Counting”.

Josh Duggar admitted in May to sexually molesting underage girls including several of his sisters. While the admissions were shocking, they should not have been to TLC. These allegations about him have been around for a number of years. The Oprah Winfrey Show was aware of these rumors and reportedly contacted a child protection hotline.

Yet when the story broke last week, surprisingly TLC did not seem to realize the intensity of public revulsion and anger that would develop. The day Duggar admitted to sexually molesting underage girls and apologized for his actions, TLC was running a “19 Kids and Counting” marathon. Sponsors were quick to pull away from the show but not TLC. Only belatedly did the network announce that it was pulling the show from its schedule but not necessarily canceling it. The network also issued a tepid note of sympathy towards Duggar’s victims.

On July 16th, nearly two months after the scandal broke and sponsors deserted in swarms did TLC finally announce it was cancelling “19 Kids and Counting”. On July 17th, TLC announced that it was teaming up with two prominent child-protection organizations for an ongoing campaign to raise awareness about child sexual abuse. The multi-platform initiative will begin with a one-hour, commercial-free documentary likely airing in late August, the network said. It will include the participation of Jill and Jessa Duggar, two of the sisters Josh Duggar touched inappropriately, as well as other survivors and families affected by such abuse. This is all part of repositioning the network as “a brand with purpose” TLC claimed in a press release.

The public reaction has been one of deep skepticism and disbelief. This belated attempt in dealing with the crisis has caused even more bad coverage for the network.

So what did TLC do wrong?

  1. Waited too long in announcing it was cancelling the show. Any scandal involving children is something that nobody ever recovers from. TLC should have immediately cancelled the show and issued a strong statement expressing outrage and condemnation at Josh Duggar’s actions and strong sympathy for his victims. Rather by delaying the cancellation, TLC gave the impression fairly or unfairly that it was hoping that the storm would subside and it could bring back its number one rated show. There was no way possible that this could happen. The longer that TLC waited the worse it became for the network. Cancelling the show two months after the scandal broke was too little, too lat.
  2. Casting Jill and Jessa Duggar in its August special about child sexual abuse. Speculation has been rampant since the scandal broke, that TLC would cast the two in their own spinoff show in an attempt to keep the show around and its ratings. By having Jill and Jessa Duggar in this special it gives the appearance of being done for ratings and also to set the stage for a spinoff for the two. TLC still has not said if will or won’t launch a spinoff with Jill and Jessa Duggar.
  3. Fail to show that it really gets what was wrong and address allegations that the network knew well in advance about Josh Duggar. As long as these suspicions remain, the TLC brand is tarnished.

TLC has a long way to go before the public believes that it is “a brand with purpose” outside of high ratings. Other brands can take note from it on what not to do.

The Danger Of Tying A Brand To One Person – Subway and Jared

Many brands base their marketing and publicity strategies on a public spokesperson. Lincoln has Matthew McConaughey. Priceline has William Shatner of Star Trek fame. Wendy’s used its CEO, Dave Thomas before his death. Men’s Warehouse used its founder, George Zimmer until he was ousted from the company. Very often the brand becomes identified with its spokesperson. To the public, the spokesperson equals the brand, its products and values. A brand’s reputation rises or falls with its spokesperson.

Subway, the restaurant chain is finding the downside of having a spokesperson as its public face. Jared Fogle shot to fame when his story of losing over 200 pounds went public. Fogle based his weight loss on visiting a Subway restaurant and ordering a low-fat sandwich. From that sandwich on, he dropped more than 200 pounds in about a year while eating Subway’s turkey subs and veggie subs with no mayonnaise and cheese. When Subway learned of his story, he became the face of Subway promoting their healthy alternatives to fast food. His story became the Subway story. Consumers identified with his everyman story and could relate to his weight struggle. Franchise owners reported increased sales when commercials and other promotional material featuring Fogle ran. All told he made over 50 television commercials for the chain. The company hyped him as the perfect family man whose values were those of Subway. To the public, Fogle and Subway were one and the same.

On July 7th, that perception became a nightmare for Subway. The FBI, Indiana State Police and the U.S. Postal Service raided Fogle’s home seizing electronic equipment with the clear implication from media reports that he was suspected of being involved in child pornography. A Florida woman came forward and said that Fogle had made remarks to her that were so inappropriate and shocking that she had contacted law enforcement officials. This happened two months after Russell Taylor, the former executive director of the Jared Foundation, which Fogle started to raise awareness to and combat childhood obesity, was arrested on federal child pornography charges. Fogle has not been arrested and his attorney issued a statement saying he is cooperating with authorities. Overnight, Fogle became the punch line for late night comedians with Subway included in the jokes. There was also a sense of public revulsion.

Subway issued a statement expressing shock at the events that had unfolded. Then the restaurant chain went further and announced that they were suspending it relationship with Fogle but they were not terminating it.

The question for Subway is what do they do next?

  1. They need to terminate their relationship with Fogle straight out. Whether Fogle is cleared or not, he is damaged goods and will remain so. Comedians will continue to joke about him and if Subway remains connected with him, Subway will be included in those jokes. There are three things people cannot fully recover from – scandals involving race, animals, and children. The sooner Subway formally severs all ties with Fogle, the better for the company.
  2. Develop a new branding strategy that doesn’t focus on any single person but rather on the company’s food and brand. Or if they want a person as the spokesperson have that person be Suzanne Greco, Subway’s president and sister of founder and CEO Fred DeLuca,
  3. Refresh the look of Subway and introduce new menu items with the new strategy the company is launching.
  4. Support organizations that battle exploitation of children.
  5. Develop a crisis communications strategy and have it in place if and when Fogle is indicted that separates the company totally from Fogle and condemns such actions that he may have committed.

The Jared Fogle/Subway story is a cautionary tale for a brand becoming to identified with its spokesperson. The important thing to remember when using a spokesperson as the face of the brand, the brand’s fortunes becomes tied with that person for both good and bad.

Donald Trump – Why His Brand Will Survive

Since announcing for president, billionaire businessman, Donald Trump has catapulted in many of the polls to second place as the Republicans’ choice for the Republican nomination. Much of this momentum has been based upon his remarks regarding illegal immigration from Mexico. When announcing for president, Trump addressed the red button issue of illegal immigration by calling for a wall to be built between Mexico and the United States and saying, “The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”   According to polls Republican voters loved the remarks giving Trump equal news coverage over the past several weeks with Republican frontrunner, Jeb Bush while other candidates tried desperately to get coverage, any coverage.

While his remarks might have been good politics for the Republican primaries, it was bad business for the vast Trump brand.   Trump’s remarks led Univision which broadcasts his ‘Miss USA’ pageant to announce that it would no longer broadcast the pageant. The co-hosts of the Miss USA Spanish-language simulcast—Devious Maids actress Roselyn Sanchez and actor Cristian De La Fuente announced that they also would no longer participate in that pageant. NBC announced that it was severing ties with him. Macy’s stated it would no longer carry his clothing line. Serta opted not to renew its contract with Trump Home. The PGA, ESPN, and others all followed suit. This has led many to speculate that the Trump brand is damaged beyond the pale.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, the brand is taking a hit as he runs for president. The Trump brand will not only survive this but be as strong as ever after his foray into politics is concluded. The reason is Trump is being authentic to his brand.

The Donald Trump brand has been based over the years as one part serious businessman, one part entertainer, and one part somewhat buffoonish. Over the years he has insulted nearly everyone possible, declared bankruptcy, yet still the brand has survived and prospered. People have bought into that brand and believe in it. People read about Trump and watch him on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ to see what off the wall remarks he might come out with. Trump is the ultimate showman. These people who believe in the brand are not going to change their viewing habits or purchases because of his remarks. If anything they are more likely to have their loyalty to the Trump brand be reinforced by these comments (very much as we saw with Duck Dynasty and the furor over comments made by Phil Robertson).   After all, they view this as just Trump being Trump.

Brands can rebound and even flourish after a crisis if during the crisis they were true and authentic to their brand identity. After Trump’s presidential race is over, it will be business as usual for the Trump brand. Indeed he may have won even more followers with his rhetoric. That is why all the talk about the demise of the Trump brand is very premature.

Is NBC’s ‘Firing’ a Triumph for Trump?

NBC Universal finally said to Donald Trump, “ you are fired”. The action came as pressure was mounting on the network to sever all ties with the businessman/reality television star/Republican presidential candidate after he called for a great wall to be built in order to stop illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States. In his statement, Trump said, “The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Trump’s remarks led Univision which broadcasts his ‘Miss USA’ pageant to announce that it would no longer broadcast the pageant. The co-hosts of the Miss USA Spanish-language simulcast—Devious Maids actress Roselyn Sanchez and actor Cristian De La Fuente announced that they also would no longer participate in that pageant.

Trump as is his style, hyped the controversy for all that he could. He announced that he would be suing Univision and banned reporters from the network from his campaign events. He further tried to make the media firestorm out to be a fabricated event with the media going after him because he was the strongest potential Republican candidate in 2016. Of course, Trump said his remarks were never meant to disparage Mexicans.

From a communications standpoint, the controversy was a godsend for the master showman. It continued to allow him to dominate the airwaves with coverage of his remarks and the reactions they were generating overshadowing the presidential launch of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and the activities of other current candidates such as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Senators Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul. Finally, it allowed his campaign to keep its momentum going. His remarks intentional or not, hit a chord with much of the Republican base that favors strong anti-immigration laws, propelling him in some polls to second place in key primary states just behind Jeb Bush. For Trump, any publicity even negative publicity has always been a win.

Strangely silent as the crisis unfolded over the past week was NBC Universal, the network that airs Trump’s beauty pageants, Miss USA and Miss Universe, and his reality television show, Celebrity Apprentice.   Even when called upon to make a statement regarding Trump’s remarks, the network released a tepid condemnation of his statement but would take no further action despite being urged to do so by many leading Mexican-American personalities. Many pointed out the sharp contrast of NBC Universal to the Food Network’s handling of Paula Deen several years ago when it was revealed that the celebrity chef had used the ‘N’ word. As the controversy continued into another week with Trump revealing in the attention, NBC Universal was finally forced to move and sever ties with him. Too many, the network did so reluctantly and did not seem to fully condemn Trump’s words for fear of losing one of its ratings champions.

The Donald Trump/NBC Universal saga could have been a non-story had NBC Universal acted more swiftly. In a crisis like this when racial words are at the forefront, the only way for an organization to act is swiftly in getting ahead of the story. NBC Universal dawdled, hoping they would not lose their ratings winner. As a result, there actions when taken looked forced earning them no praise from those offended by Trump’s remarks and earning Trump’s disdain as well. Crisis specialists should remember delay in handling a crisis makes the crisis worse and any action taken forced and not done willingly by the organization.