Donald Trump’s presidential bid: boon or bust for his brand?

TAGs: branding, Donald Trump

According to a leading consumer research society, Donald Trump’s failed presidential bid garnered the bizarrely coiffured mogul $259.4m in free publicity. As an experiment, the Daily Beast contracted with General Sentiment to track and assign a value to every article, tweet and online mention of Trump throughout his six-week long pseudo-campaign. Just in the month of April, Der Donald was mentioned 893,424 separate times online, which equates to a media value of $195m and temporary elevation into the top five global brands. (Perennial number one Apple typically generates $300m/month.)

donald-trump-presidential-brandIf Trump looks like a genius for garnering all that free publicity, look a little closer. General Sentiment also measured if those online mentions were positive or negative, even making allowances for sarcasm. In the months prior to Trump’s campaign, the online impression of his brand was consistently skewing 61% positive, 39% negative. When Trump initially raised the issue of Obama’s birth certificate, his numbers slipped to 54/46. By May, he was back to 61% — negative.

You might look at these stats and conclude that Trump, who ceaselessly toils to associate his name with ‘quality’ and ‘class’, not only made a fool out of himself – and was made to look foolish in public by the man whose job Trump allegedly craved – he also inflicted serious damage to his personal brand. Maybe the cliché is wrong, and there really is such a thing as bad publicity. Maybe, maybe not.

Two weeks prior to quitting the race, Trump was bragging that sales of Trump-branded products, including “shirts, the ties, everything are way up.” OhMyGov Media Monitoring claims Trump added 802 Facebook fans and an impressive 7,937 Twitter followers in the three days following the announcement that he was quitting the presidential race. So is Donald now like a ‘heel’ in professional wrestling, the guy you love to hate?

Many were of the opinion that Trump’s presidential bid was a stunt to boost ratings of his Celebrity Apprentice television program, so perhaps that’s the best way to gauge whether he won or lost. Up until Trump underwent his birther baptism, Celebrity Apprentice’s ratings were up 7.5% over 2010. But since the end of April, the show lost 13% of its audience. However, National Media Inc., a firm that places political ads on television, describes Celebrity Apprentice’s audience as among the most liberal in primetime television. (Survivor‘s audience is predominantly Republican. Draw your own conclusions.) So it’s actually not all that surprising that pissed off Democrats would switch off their TVs and turn their focus to opening up lemonade/abortion stands or whatever. Meaning we still don’t have conclusive proof of whether Trump’s brand value has gone up or down across the board.

In late April, Forbes estimated Trump’s brand value at $200m. Trump made a point of informing the magazine’s Keren Blankfeld that this estimate was “ridiculous … You’re off by about $2.8 billion.” Imagine what it will be worth when Trump decides he wants to be the next Dalai Lama.


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