Should Brands Take a Political Stand?

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PRINTCast: The PRINT Podcast Studio is a curated collection of cutting-edge podcasts we love about design, creativity, branding, books, and further subjects afield. Soon, we’ll have a dedicated digital listening room. In the meantime, we present the latest episode of BrandBox, “a (playful and thoughtful) podcast on the strategies and effects of brands.”

“We stand for democracy.

“A government of the people, by the people.

“A beautifully American ideal, but a reality denied to many for much of this nation’s history.

“As Americans, we know that in our democracy we should not expect to agree on everything.

“However, regardless of our political affiliations, we believe the very foundation of our electoral process rests upon the ability of each of us to cast our ballots for the candidates of our choice.

“For American democracy to work for any of us, we must ensure the right to vote for all of us.

“We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot.

“Voting is the lifeblood of our democracy and we call upon all Americans to join us in taking a nonpartisan stand for this most basic and fundamental right of all Americans.”

This ad, which ran in The New York Times on April 14 and was co-signed by 100 corporate executives, caught the eye of BrandBox co-host Tom Guarriello. It caused a stir on the media landscape—and especially the right-wing media landscape, which expressed outrage at corporations opining on the matter.

And yet, as Guarriello says in this episode, “If you were to present this in a blind poll to most Americans, you would expect (and hope) that it would be as noncontroversial a statement as could be made.”

Corporations, brands … should they sign on to such documents and take a stand, and what are they signing up for when they do—or don’t?

“The idea of ‘where are we on the arc of history’ becomes an important challenge for corporations,” Guarriello says. “This is the kind of sentiment about democracy that is fundamental to the American dream, the American ideal. Not supporting this fundamental principle of democracy is a redefinition of who you are as a corporation—not only as a corporation as a marketing entity, but also a corporation as an organizational entity that has employees who are perceived as identifying with the values of the corporation.”

On this episode of BrandBox, Guarriello, Mark Kingsley and Melissa Welch dive into the oft-incendiary meeting point of politics and brands.

Listen in right here:

Show Notes

SVA Masters in Branding program // Music courtesy of Mikel Rouse // Dr. Tom Guarriello // Mark Kingsley