Study: Americans Are Sick of Companies, Ads Getting Political

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By Jillian Kay Melchior | 6:22 am, May 28, 2017
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Brands feel the pressure to get political—but their customers actually hate it, according to a new study by a top American advertising agency trade association.

The American Association of Advertising Agencies polled hundreds of ad agencies, and two-thirds said that they feel under pressure to stake out a political or social stance.

But for brands, “there’s typically more risk than benefit,” the trade group concluded.

The study showed that 58 percent of consumers disliked it when brands weighed in on political or social issues.

Shoppers went out of their way to avoid companies they deemed racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic or otherwise intolerant.

But those same customers didn’t go out of their way to support companies that focused on taking a “positive position,” including being inclusive.

Less of this, please.

“Brands taking a negative approach risk backlash, and only a small percentage of consumers are moved to buy from positive messaging,” the chief marketing officer for the American Association of Advertising Agencies said in a statement.

Already in the past year, we’ve seen some epic advertising misadventures when brands try to weigh in on social or political issues.

Most notorious, the Pepsi social-justice ad featuring Kendall Jenner backfired stupendously. Other noteworthy misfires include a PETA ad that used the slogan “Grab a Pussy” to encourage cat adoption, as well as Kellogg’s much-ridiculed “Women Eat” commercial that was supposed to be feminist and body-positive.

Hopefully advertisers will take note. We’re sick of the politicization of everything, and it looks like we’re not alone.

— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.