An article in Social Media and Marketing Daily titled Brands Ride Gay Marriage Social Wave, pointed out some statistics gathered by MediaPost through its ListenFirst service regarding brand involvement and the ruling:
- Proctor & Gamble - total social interactions increased 46% compared to the two days before the decision, to over 1.8 million.
- Visa - 70% to almost 400,000
- Tide - 485% to 317,000
- Citi - 75% to 300,000
- Expedia - 62% to 293,000
- Jell-o had the biggest gains - up 1,067% to 41,000 interactions
An eclectic mix of companies, and pretty incredible increases to be sure. But what the statistics don’t show is what percent of these social interactions were positive vs. negative. No way to know without some further insight. But what has already become clear is that despite the Supreme Court’s ruling and rising public support of same-sex marriage, everyone is not happy with the outcome.
There’s already foot dragging by some states and municipalities in terms of implementing the necessary elements to ensure they comply. No doubt there will be small and maybe even mid-sized companies in different states that will find a way to subvert the ruling. But brands that made no overt show of support before, but who are doing so now, may want to consider their motives before proceeding further at the risk of some serious backlash from one or both sides of the Supreme Court decision.
Look, no one ever accused brands of having a conscience. In fact, the whole conscious capitalism movement grew partially out of a concern that brands were seen as having the exact opposite. But that’s a topic for another day. The point is that while some of the brands mentioned in the Media Post statistics may have already been conveying support for the LGBT community for some time, the attempt by brands to convey support when they may have been silent before reminds me of what I call the Arnold Horshack effect. For those of you who ever watched the TV series Welcome Back, Kotter you’ll remember that Horshack was the one who tried to get the teacher’s attention by raising his hand and obnoxiously shouting “Mr. Kotta, Mr. Kotta.” And so it will seem with brands wishing to get on the same-sex marriage bandwagon. They’ll raise their hands and shout, “We support gay marriage. We support gay marriage.” With what? Rainbow colored jell-o cubes?
I would venture to say that the LGBT community already knows which brands authentically support them and same-sex marriage. I’d also be willing to bet that brands that try to squeeze on to the bandwagon after sitting on the sidelines until now are going to have a hard time convincing this group that their sudden awakening is authentic. By rushing to do so, they’ll not only alienate potential new consumers, they run the risk of alienating the ones they already have.
This isn’t to say brands can’t or shouldn’t change or that they should or shouldn’t support same-sex marriage. What they need to understand is the historical significance of the Supreme Court ruling will eventually be overtaken by the reality of life going on. When that happens, they will still have customers who are looking to them for a POV and products that resonate and are relevant to them now and into the future. That’s a hard reality to succeed in if your marketing strategy is to blow with popular opinion.