Brands About Their Post-Election Work: Never Mind

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Pundits, journalists, and Hillary Clinton supporters were shocked by Donald Trump’s win last week. But it turns out that advertisers were also shocked that he’s the next president of the U.S., given some were banking on on a Clinton win — enough to create ads around themes of a woman president and female empowerment.

It’s not a surprise that brands would create post-election work. After all, multiple brands lined up to release politically themed ads around the debates. Tecate, for example, explicitly addressed politics in its ad released around the first debate. In Tecate’s case, it focused on the wall between the U.S. and Mexico that Donald Trump said he would build. Tecate’s wall, unlike Trump’s proposed wall — which he said would be built between the U.S. and Mexico — is “a wall that brings us together,” the voice-over in the ad said.

Audi for its part ran an ad called “Duel,” which featured two valets fighting over who got to drive an Audi RS 7. The ad’s kicker: “Beautiful things are worth fighting for. Choose the next driver wisely.”

Now at least some post-election work is being reconsidered, according to several people in the industry. AgencySpy reported that Johnnie Walker and Anomaly are allegedly backing away from upcoming political-leaning work, which was slated to feature a “Jane Walker” and focus on women’s equality.

But they are not alone. Brands are contemplating whether to keep work that focused on women’s progress and empowerment — or variations on a theme that Hillary Clinton was our next president — to soften or even scrap the message, in an effort to avoid upsetting consumers. (Brands like New Balance have already been caught in the crossfire. New Balance said it supported Trump’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the company feared would take jobs from the U.S. Some consumers, in response to New Balance’s position, posted photos and videos on social media of themselves burning their New Balance shoes in protest.)

This is all, of course, because like many pollsters and media types, advertisers assumed that probability of polls that favored Hillary Clinton meant she would win. And it might also be because of the bubble they live in. Since the election, countless stories have been written about pollsters and journalists being blindsided by Trump’s win thanks to the bubbles they’ve been in, but agencies and brands are no more innocent in this. It’s also a reminder that it’s important to understand and anticipate different points of view.