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When Standing by Brand Values Means . . . Sean Hannity and K-Cups?

January 9th, 2018   ||    by Melanie Brown

Brand values have never been more central to consumers than they are now, and as the pebbles of recent scandals have been cast into the pool of well-known television programs and personalities, brands are often the first expected to react to the waves.

Consumers usually see the money brands pay to advertise through various outlets as a kind of support. These days, it’s not enough for a brand to have the best product—consumers want to align themselves with and invest in brands and companies that share their values and beliefs. Brands must, in turn, position themselves on certain issues and stand up for those values.

From O’Reilly to Hannity

Earlier in the year, brands and advertisers suffered the crisis of having to make immediate decisions based on the manifold aspects of (and reactions to) the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Prior to that, the sexual harassment accusations directed toward Bill O’Reilly had brands on their toes about whether or not to advertise during his program—some brands saw consumer backlash based on how they reacted (or didn’t).

So, when a scandal comes around—like what broke around failed Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore—advertisers are now more prepared to stand up for their brand values. Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News was the first playing field for some of these brands, who were quick to withdraw their advertising after what many perceived to be a defense of Moore in the wake of pedophilia allegations.

Brands like, Keurig, and Volvo all publicly stated they were pulling ad dollars from Hannity, but all retracted their Twitter statements after suffering consumer backlash (some in a very dramatic way), according to The New York Times.

Standing up for brand values is important, but when the backlash is consumers calling for brand boycotts—and destroying products, according to The Washington Post—it can be difficult for brands to stick to their guns. After announcing it would pull its ads from Hannity, coffeemaker brand Keurig was attacked by supporters of the Fox News host who disagreed with the choice.

Brands vs. Consumers?

Unfortunately, having a position and staying with it is easier said than done for many brands. The trade-off is often losing a portion of your customer base, which is undesirable no matter how small that portion is. And for consumers, sometimes the brands you love are not going to share your values.

What brands must adopt moving forward is a policy on their social positions, as well as the line that must be crossed to make it worthwhile to pull advertising or sponsorship from a particular media property. Consumers need to be aware of the existence of these policies and decide for themselves whether or not that warrants a change in purchase behavior.

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