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Of Brands and Politics
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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We thoroughly appreciate the title of this blog, "Beyond Madison Avenue," because it allows us to deviate from pure creative and advertising posts. It allows us to provide an all-encompassing view of our advertising landscape. It is issues like these — sponsors and politics — that fall into the "beyond" category.

Yet, not so much. We'll explain.

If you haven't heard it by now, for the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Boston, Guinness, Heineken, and several other companies withdrew from the parade. Why? Because the parade managers decided to ban any LGBT-friendly flags or displays.

So during a parade that honors Irish heritage, Guinness was not present.


Herein lies the question — when do politics or social issues supersede  the brand? 

During several interviews of Bostonians, NPR realized that many of the parade-goers had no idea Guinness dropped out, and had even less of an idea why. Frankly, it seemed that more people were mad that Guinness wasn't going to be present than the whole issue.

So now, instead of having your consumers think you're awesome for standing up for what you believe in, you have a bunch of party-goers upset that they are not going to see their favorite beer in the parade.

Perhaps it was the fault of the media, because Guinness thought people cared about what the media had to say, that more people would know about the ban — therefore exalting Guinness' noble stance.

Oh, the faith in the American public. 

It is very interesting how brands react to stories in the media versus how brands react. Imagine if the Guinness president was caught cheating on his wife during St. Paddy's Day with an Italian. 

Unfortunately, that is the type of news our lovely public would raise arms about. "What happened? You put that Guinness down, sir."

Sticking up for the morals and diversity of the brand is awesome, and great to see. We're cynical because we are too used to brands not doing what Guinness did, and are more worried about the brand exposure versus what opinions make up the integrity of the brand.

Brand, or poitics? In our corner of the ring, it's no contest. The brand should always win.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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