During the referendum we examined how brands were taking a bold stance and publicising which way they would be voting. Now that US election fever is well underway we are noticing more and more brands championing their candidate of choice in humorous and interesting ways. We all know that millennials are searching for a brand that has a worldview they can identify with, and companies are cleverly capturing the zeitgeist in different ways.
Ben and Jerry’s founder Ben Cohen confirmed his support for his fellow Vermont native and candidate for the Democratic nomination Bernie Sanders by creating him his own ice cream flavour. ‘Bernie’s Yearning’ has a thin layer of chocolate at the top (to represent the 1%-ers that Sanders riles against) that can be crushed and incorporated into the mint ice cream below. This did not feel out of the ordinary as Ben and Jerry’s are already known as a brand that is involved in social commentary, with their climate change and equal marriage ice creams.
Gourmet Burger Kitchen have had a more tongue in cheek approach to the US election, bringing out their ‘Vote Rump’ burger – using the taglines ‘Our thickest burger ever’ ‘It’s a bit of an arse’ and ‘Makes any hands look tiny’. Although this is a relatively safe stance to take in the UK, with most Britons bewildered by the popularity of Trump, the humour in the campaign seems to have struck a nerve with burger lovers in the UK.
Some brands have also been dragged into the election cycle buzz unwillingly. Skittles became a focus in the election cycle after Donald Trump Jr. tweeted the now infamous poster comparing a bowl of skittles to Syrian refugees. Skittles were applauded for their restraint as they responded to the furore with a simple statement: ‘Skittles are a candy. Refugees are people. We don’t feel it is an appropriate analogy’. By making as little fuss as possible, Skittles quickly distanced themselves from Trump’s campaign, and subtly demonstrated which nominee they favoured.
Although we love the humour and entertaining nature of the above campaigns, it is perhaps because this election cycle feels so ridiculous and caricatured that such responses seem normal. With more serious political issues such a stance would be inappropriate. Ben and Jerry’s demonstrated this recently when they came out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Rather than trivialising the issue with a humorous ice cream name, they sensibly put out a lengthy statement to explain their viewpoint on the issue.
We’d love to see some of the brands that have taken a political stance in this election cycle also tackle some of the trickier political and social issues in culture; perhaps Skittles could release a special ‘Love The Rainbow’ pack, with proceeds going to refugee charities?