posted on | written by Tara Mulvany
If ever there was a brand heading into crisis, it has to be the Trump brand. The privately owned, international Trump Organisation based in New York comprises residential real estate developments, hotels, resorts, residential towers and golf courses in several countries around the world. Presided over by the Trump family including US Presidential candidate Donald Snr and his children Donald Jnr, Ivanka and Eric.
Like it or loath it, the Trump brand has associated itself with luxury, prestige, grandeur and affluence. By keeping himself in the public media for over four decades, Donald Trump Snr grew the brand’s awareness and value and helped it to achieve worldwide recognition. Topped off by appearances in movies and TV shows like the The Apprentice, Home Alone, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, The Little Rascals and many more, as well as his now infamous association with the Miss Universe Pageant. Trump and his brand were conjoined as popular culture icons and were symbolic of the American dream.
The big, brash, billionaire was as intriguing as he was unpalatable and despite his crass reputation, from a non-American perspective at least, to most of us ‘ordinary folk’ Trump was nothing more than a mouthy, boorish, playboy. Since his Presidential nomination, however, we’ve all gotten to know ‘The Donald’ a lot better.
The gap between the Trump brand audience and the Trump campaign audience is staggering. Trump brand attracts the wealthy, seeking high end, prestigious residences and leisure. Much (though not all) of the Trump presidential campaign is represented by the disenfranchised and the working classes.
The two audiences don’t match and increasingly the cleft appears to be impacting on both the man and the brand. And that’s not to mention the labels of racism, xenophobia, sexism and many more that have followed Trump, the man, around for the past year. It all begs the question, how much more can Trump, the brand, endure?
There’s already a body of evidence that suggests the brand is feeling the pain. The Washington Post recently reported that Foursquare and its sister app Swarm released data showing a decline in footfall into Trump’s businesses. A Bloomberg poll claimed that 61% of likely voters say that they are "less impressed" with Donald Trump's business expertise based on what they've learned about him over the course of the campaign. Fortune magazine also carried the results of a survey by travel site Hipmunk which suggested that Trump hotel bookings had plummeted nearly 60% for the first half of 2016.
Trump spokespeople have naturally discounted the credibility of these surveys saying, ‘The data that has been reported by sites such as Foursquare is manipulated to appear meaningful, when, in reality, the information is inconsequential and does not provide an accurate representation of our performance.’
If Trump loses on November 8th and all polls suggest that he will, it’s hard to see how the brand can recover. It may require a ‘conscious uncoupling’ like we’ve never seen before. This, perhaps, will be the greatest test of Trumps business prowess to date.