A year after the presidential election, a range of advertisers are learning that it doesn’t take much — sometimes just a single Twitter post — to land them in the middle of a social media firestorm that splits along party lines. In some cases, they land there even if they’ve done nothing. And it has become clear in the past month that long-used strategies for how brands should respond to the ensuing outrage may need rewriting.
Last month, consumers shared videos of themselves destroying Keurig coffee machines after the company said it would pull ads from Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, a decision based on the supportive comments the host made about Roy S. Moore, the embattled Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama. Earlier last month, the hashtag #BoycottJimBeam emerged after the actress Mila Kunis, a spokeswoman for the liquor company since 2014, said on “Conan” that she has been donating to Planned Parenthood under Vice President Mike Pence’s name in a form of “peaceful protest.”
And Papa John’s has been renouncing the support of white supremacists and apologizing for appearing divisive after its chief executive said on an earnings call that the National Football League’s handling of the national anthem controversy had hurt its pizza sales.
As the national conversation has become increasingly fractured, major brands have repeatedly found themselves in the middle of these kinds of controversies, often stoked by posts or comments on Twitter and Facebook.
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