Can a Brand be Guilty by Association?

Today’s brands are rapidly adjusting to consumer needs by standing for something. The days of simply marketing a comfortable shoe have passed. Brands are identifying large segments of consumers and have found a return on aligning politically with their target consumer. A recent and visible example is Nike’s Kaepernick advertisements. Not only did they align with a customer, they dominated the conversation whether it was pro-Nike, or a homemade video of shorts being torched out on the patio. In a polarized market, not only can the core message of the brand come under fire, but the medium now has the chance to make an equally impactful statement.

“I’m only watching it for the ads.” – one of the most common things you’ll hear when your team isn’t in the Superbowl this year. This platform has become the all-star event for ad firms world-wide. Decades of iconic ads can be recited from Superbowls past. But with the NFL now having been immersed into the world of polarized political stances, the marketing channel itself may have also been dragged along. Simply appearing in this advertisement arena could lead consumers to view a brand with a stance. Is this what you thought when you’re told you were guilty by association?


What can Marketers take from this?

You must view the medium in the same value that you view the message.

Consider this: Your daughter sees an ad for the shop she bought her prom dress at on a diner placemat during Sunday brunch. Chances she wants to brag about that shop to her friends?


Consider your channel. Is it the right one for your brand?


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