Post-election backlash: A tale of two brands

Half of the American population who voted are either reading this in the fetal position or literally rioting in the streets over democracy. The other half of the American voting population are either gloating, or doing cartwheels.

What I am asking brands to do tonight, as your advertising sensei is this: Don't be like either of these people.

Let's take the conservative side first:

Today, New Balance -- an American-based privately owned business, who is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement acted with civility by daring to congratulate President-elect Trump, and actually voicing in a calm manner exactly why he thinks Trump will be good for his business. Matthew LeBretton, New Balance’s vice president of public affairs had this to say in an interview: “The Obama administration turned a deaf ear to us and frankly, with President-elect Trump, we feel things are going to move in the right direction.”

Regardless, the social media backlash against New Balance for not following approved group think was immediate. Hundreds of people on social media vowed to boycott New Balance. Some even set their New Balance shoes on fire, which is as childish as much as it is ironically redolent of Fascism. Of course for every person who did this, there were others who supported New Balance. Let's face it, the same people who have been reporting the news have been dividing us, too. For every boycott, you can count on a buycott.

Still, this backlash (which will no doubt die off like all viruses in a few days) prompted New Balance to offer up a clarification of sorts on social media that reiterates their values, but does not apologize for being anti-TPP.

Fun Fact: Both Bernie Sanders and The Electronic Frontier Foundation feel exactly the same way about TPP, as does Trump.

Now let's talk Liberal side:

Yesterday, Matt Maloney, the CEO of GrubHub sent out an email to his employees suggesting employees who agreed with anything Trump has said should resign.

I'm still trying to reconcile my own worldview with the overwhelming message that was delivered last night. Clearly there are a lot of people angry and scared as the antithesis of every modern presidential candidate won and will be our next president.


While demeaning, insulting and ridiculing minorities, immigrants and the physically/mentally disabled worked for Mr. Trump, I want to be clear that this behavior - and these views, have no place at Grubhub. Had he worked here, many of his comments would have resulted in his immediate termination.


We have worked for years cultivating a culture of support and inclusiveness. I firmly believe that we must bring together different perspectives to continue innovating - including all genders, races, ethnicities and sexual, cultural or ideological preferences. We are better, faster and stronger together.


Further I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can. As we all try to understand what this vote means to us, I want to affirm to anyone on our team that is scared or feels personally exposed, that I and everyone else here at Grubhub will fight for your dignity and your right to make a better life for yourself and your family here in the United States.


If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here. We do not tolerate hateful attitudes on our team.I want to repeat what Hillary said this morning, that the new administration deserves our open minds and a chance to lead, but never stop believing that the fight for what's right is worth it.

This really has nothing to do with food or GrubHub. And if Maloney had paused and taken a step back, he might have realized this kind of could easily be misconstrued by your employees, let alone the public, as being a bit dictatorial and makes GrubHub look less like being a bastion of tolerance, and more a company with a hostile workplace environment where free speech will be suppressed, especially if you are a conservative. Again, I don't believe this was a conscious intention, but it certainly was stupid. As a result, anti-GrubHub backlash was equally as swift, and not just on social media with #boycottGrubHub. According to Forbes shares of GrubHub dropped 4% today.

In light of this backlash, Maloney offered up his own clarification

This year’s presidential election was undoubtedly divisive and left many of our employees feeling concerned. In response, I wrote a company-wide email that was intended to advocate for inclusion and tolerance -- regardless of political affiliation -- during this time of transition for our country.


Some of the statements in my email (please see full text below) have been misconstrued. I want to clarify that I did not ask for anyone to resign if they voted for Trump. I would never make such a demand. To the contrary, the message of the email is that we do not tolerate discriminatory activity or hateful commentary in the workplace, and that we will stand up for our employees.


Grubhub welcomes and accepts employees with all political beliefs, no matter who they voted for in this or any election. We do not discriminate on the basis of someone's principles, or political or other beliefs.


I deeply respect the right of all citizens to vote for the candidate of their choice. In fact, I offered extra flexibility on Tuesday and encouraged all our employees to go vote. There is a place for all points of view at Grubhub. We value diverse perspectives and believe those perspectives help to create a better product and a better workplace culture.


Grubhub’s leadership team has worked for years to create a culture of support and inclusiveness. I firmly believe that we must bring together different perspectives to continue innovating. We are better, faster and stronger together, and so is America.

This clarification, by the way, is also being mocked (the image in this tweet is at the top of this article) who is also a CEO. Man, what is it with CEOs today? How do I get that job? Send out some all agency mic-drop emails, send out a tweet and go home. Must be nice.

The moral of the story is simple: Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, if you want your company to do well, you really need to stop talking about politics. If not forever, at least now. Let the dust settle. Wait until the kids stop throwing bottles and stop with their school walkouts. Let the trembling left wing snowflakes rise from the fetal position and dry their eyes, and let the right wing crowd go back to making Pepe memes in peace. Before you throw gasoline on anything else, put the gasoline cans down. Really, did you not learn from the media this year what not to do?

At least New Balance kept their politics to their business side. But still.

Put another way: We're only a few weeks out from Thanksgiving, and then Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas. Don't you have a business to run?

Leave a comment

about the author

kidsleepy 17 year copywriter, now CD, who has worked in many cities including Pittsburgh, New York, Atlanta, Montreal and currently Los Angeles. I snark because I care. I ain't complainin' I'm just tellin' it like it is.