How to Survive the Culture War

#DeleteUber, Pepsi, LL Bean, #grabyourwallet; brand casualties from political insensitivity, whether in the form of apathy or opportunism, have racked up quickly, and the US culture war is just starting. Brands with their heads in the sand may elude the storm for a while, but four years is long time, so companies better start building their PR fallout shelter yesterday. That’s obvious, but the blueprints aren’t. Do nothing (except donate Red somewhere in the family tree) and you end up on The List, and if you do a lot (spend millions on a Blue commercial), you can also land on The List. Branding/marketing gurus prescribe authenticity, authenticity, authenticity, but what does that really mean? Being authentic to a brand’s minimum wage employees? To its C-Suite millionaires? To its deck? Brands should ditch authentic, and focus on strategic. Here’s a few brand tips to survive the consumer culture war.

  1. If Possible, be Canada. Establish your alliance with minimal fanfare and resources spent. You don’t have to lead the charge to end up on the winning side.
  2. Send Money, Not Troops. Getting on the front lines can make you a hero, but it can also get Kendall Jenner killed. Lyft your credibility with a million bucks to someplace Blue.
  3. No Pain, No Gain. If the operation isn’t a little painful – more money than you want to spend, more explicit than you’re comfortable with (see IBM) – then you might forfeit position.
  4. Choose Easy Targets. Sidestep the glorious yet dangerous Blue-chip issues, when possible, and take down some easier, simpler ones.
  5. Close Your Embassy. Diplomacy is collusion, at this point. Condemn, condemn, condemn. And stay the hell away from White House bagel breakfasts.
  6. No Women, No Children. Barron and Melania are off limits, apparently. Open season on the rest.
  7. Forget the Oil. You’re in this war to survive. If you go looking for gold, you’re dead.

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