Opposition Branding: At Least One Campaign Sees Some Lyft

In its first week in office, actions by the Trump Administration have triggered international crises for many marketers, some of whom are taking their own form of action in what might well be described as “opposition branding.”

Executive orders to build the wall between the U.S. and Mexico and to ban travel from some mostly Islamic nations prompted a number of brands to make public statements, contribute financial support and even run ads in opposition to the White House actions.

Not surprisingly, some of the greatest opposition to the new establishment president came from new establishment brands such as Airbnb and Lyft.

Within hours of an email and PR campaign criticizing Trump’s immigration ban, particularly on refugees, and donating $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union, Lyft begin seeing some brand lift as a number of Hollywood celebrities tweeted their support for the ride-sharing service and called for a boycott of rival Uber, which was perceived as supporting the White House.



“We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community,” Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer wrote.

A grassroots social media campaign urging people to “delete” Uber was prompted when Uber drivers broke the yellow taxi strike at JFK airport in New York City and because Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has been seen as collaborating with Trump.

Kalanick is one of several members of industry that have been appointed to Trump’s business advisory group, and he recently called on Uber employees to be supportive of the new administration, noting, "We'll partner with anyone in the world as long they're about making transportation in cities better, creating job opportunities, making it easier to get around, getting pollution out of the air and traffic off the streets.”

By late Sunday, Uber had shifted its public position on at least one Trump action, as the #DeleteUber campaign began trending.

In response, Kalanick tweeted that Trump's travel ban "is against everything Uber stands for." He noted the ban affects thousands of Uber drivers and said Uber would compensate them for lost earnings if they’re unable to work because of the ban.

Another sharing economy brand, Airbnb, meanwhile, extended a welcome hand, offering “free housing to refugees and anyone allowed in the U.S.,” according to a tweet by CEO and Co-Founder Brian Chesky.

While most conventional consumer brands have been sitting on the sidelines, the tech industry and especially Hollywood have been taking vocal positions against the Trump Administration’s actions. Though one of those actions, Trump’s order to begin building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, did prompt some marketing from at least one brand. Corona, which is actually owned by Dutch brewer Heineken, broke an ad celebrating that American has always been great. The spot ends with the tagline: América es grande.

In a tweet on Friday, Sen. Lindsey Graham leaned in with some support of the Corona brand, noting, “Simply put, any policy proposal which drives up costs of Corona, tequila, or margaritas is a big-time bad idea. Mucho Sad.”

With Madison Avenue’s biggest game looming, observers are wondering if any of this year’s Super Bowl spots will take an oppositional position, though most of the spots teased or previewed to date have been safe and politically neutral.

Though at least one campaign has already been rejected by Super Bowl network Fox for hitting the wall, literally. A 90-second recruitment ad from construction materials supplier Lumber 84 was rejected by the network because it depicted the wall and was deemed too controversial.

Meanwhile, the material impact of the new immigration policies stands to impact Madison Avenue as much as any other industry, maybe more.

“These rules could have implications for agency holding companies if the policy persists and is more likely if the policy is expanded,” Pivotal Research Group Analyst Brian Wieser writes in a note sent to Wall Street investors late Sunday.

“While press has focused on the impact that restrictive immigration policies may have on the technology industry, the largest advertising and marketing services companies are also affected, and could be to a greater degree,” he continued, adding, “The industry’s most important clients typically have global operations, and its talent base (especially its most valuable business unit, professionals) is also commonly global by nature and birth.

"Beyond the impact of banning individuals born in specific countries, if the U.S. is viewed as less hospitable to foreigners, individuals with roots or family members outside the U.S. will be discouraged from working for agency groups with significant U.S. operations given the need to travel to the U.S. for internal and external meetings. If this occurs, independent or geographically contained agencies based outside of the U.S. could benefit. As we believe that at least some share of global agency holding companies’ growth occurs because they have gained market share from such agencies, any reversal of this trend would be negative for the group.”

3 comments about "Opposition Branding: At Least One Campaign Sees Some Lyft".
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  1. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., February 4, 2017 at 12:31 p.m.

    @Clint Dixon: Re. point 1, no, we were not reporting on the refugee and immigration ban, but on what brand marketers did in response to it. That's what we cover. Re: point 2, we'll research it further, but we weren't editorializing. That is the way the brand marketers we were covering characterized it. Re. point 3, I don't have the information to answer your question. I can only tell you what Airbnb said.

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., February 6, 2017 at 7:10 a.m.

    @Clint Dixon: Further to question 3, just saw this email from Airbnb this morning:

    From: The founders of Airbnb

    We believe in a world where anyone can belong

    Everyone deserves to belong. But for too many, it's a dire need. So our five-year goal is to make sure 100,000 people have short-term housing during urgent times. Please join us.

    Learn more: http://bit.ly/2jT5oba

  3. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., February 6, 2017 at 7:15 a.m.


    February 5, 2017

    We believe in the simple idea that no matter who you are, where you're from, who you love, or who you worship, you deserve to belong. We know this is an idealistic notion that faces huge obstacles because of something that also seems simple, but isn't - that not everyone is accepted.
    People who've been displaced, whether because of war or conflict or other factors, are acutely vulnerable to not being accepted. They are, quite literally, in need of a place to belong, which is why we've been inspired to take action.
    We started by providing housing for evacuees of disasters and have since provided housing during 54 global disasters. We partnered with organizations dedicated to the needs of refugees around the world. And just last week, we announced that the Airbnb community will provide free housing to refugees and those recently barred from entering the US. When we announced this, there was an outpouring of interest from our community, and we were inspired to go bigger.
    Today we're setting a goal to provide short-term housing over the next five years for 100,000 people in need. We'll start with refugees, disaster survivors, and relief workers, though we want to accommodate many more types of displaced people over time. To help people around the world facing displacement, we'll work with our community of hosts to find not just a place to stay, but also a place to feel connected, respected, and a part of a community again. In addition, Airbnb will contribute $4 million over the course of four years to the International Rescue Committee to support the most critical needs of displaced populations globally.
    We couldn’t talk about the lack of acceptance in the world without pointing out the challenges in our own community at Airbnb. The painful truth is that guests on Airbnb have experienced discrimination, something that is the very opposite of our values. We know we have work to do and are dedicated to achieving greater acceptance in our community.
    These efforts are just the beginning, and we hope you consider joining us by sharing your home with someone who is displaced or donating to organizations that assist those in need. It’s possible that a child today will grow up in a different kind of world, one where they're accepted for who they are, no matter where they are. Because we really do believe that the world is a better, more beautiful place the more we accept each other.
    - The founders of Airbnb

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