Brands embrace new marketing playbook in President Trump era

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Danielle Leigh reports on brands taking a stand on political and social issues. (Shutterstock)

Do you look for brands that support the principles you believe in?

In a change from years' past, a recent market survey by Sprout Social found that two out of three consumers believe it's important for brands to take a stand on political and social issues and businesses are taking notice.

"It used to be they could sit on the sidelines, and say, 'I make software, I make soup, I don't do politics,'" said author and corporate marketing expert, Peter Horst. "There's really no such thing anymore as that bland easy middle."

In his new book, "Marketing in the Fake News Era," Horst advises companies, "The world expects you to do more... Good luck. We'll all be watching."

"You can't just do nothing. Think nothing, say nothing and hope that it goes away," Horst said.

Under this changing playbook for business success, corporations have been increasingly identifying core values and causes and verbalizing them to consumers.

Executive officers of Dropbox and at the time, Etsy, weighed in on President Trump's travel ban upheld Tuesday by the Supreme Court.

Multiple airlines, including United, American and Frontier, all weighed in on the President's zero tolerance immigration policy, refusing to transport immigrant children separated from their parents.

In June, many other companies such as T Mobile, Apple and YouTube have aired advertisements or altered their logos in support of Pride Month.

"Especially the big companies," said Renata Lima. "They have a lot of money. They employ a lot of people."

"I would try to give my business to people who try to do good in the world," added Anthony Bucci.

"If they take a position that is contrary to what I believe I might want to drop them," said Barbara Gonzo.

Consumers' focus on a brand's values and political positions is a change, Horst says, even from two years ago.

"And I'm not a political person but you get sucked into it in today's environment," said Bill Reynolds.

Horst attributes this new attitude to a lack of trust and the growth of social media which gives most anyone the opportunity for a platform and a voice.

"If you come out and say, 'I'm for this, I'm against that, on the whole, you'll probably be a healthier strong brand for that," Horst said.

Today, Horst says, staying silent may be more dangerous than speaking up.

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