Branded Beliefs - #TrendReportTuesday

Traditionally, brands have stayed far away from politics. Football fields away. No, shopping malls away. Okay, like, they've stayed entire cities away from discussing politics or taking sides. But now, (you guessed it) things are shifting.

Of course, this shift isn't completely new. Being political has been en vogue for years. I'm sure we all remember Rock the Vote's partnership with MTV, as well as the "Vote or die" t-shirts from P. Diddy and Citizen Change. Voting has been sexy for years. Years before I could vote, I wore a "VOTE" t-shirt to school and felt trendy af. I'm not sure who I was telling to VOTE, since I was in middle school. But voting was trendy af. Not openly taking a side, necessarily - just voting. 

Image credit: WomensForum.com

Image credit: WomensForum.com

The tides have changed since the days of my super-cute VOTE tee. Social media has taken off, steering elections and politics into very heated and personal waters. With the growth of online activity, independent labels grew niche audiences by breaking the political rule of thumb. I mean, the fashion industry has always been brave enough to voice opinions and make statements. But back in the day, "fashion statements" referred to Perry Ellis firing Marc Jacobs for the famous grunge collection. Fashion statements today are more like oh, i don't know, Vogue officially endorsing Hillary Clinton in 2016!!! It was their first political endorsement in history, and it was NOT subtle. 

Image credit: Vogue

Image credit: Vogue

With the rise of social media came a difficult truth for brands: you're political no matter what. Everyone was suddenly given the tools to look up supporters, identify who brands subtly side with and judge brands based on the political leanings of their internal staff. Today, mega-brands are faced with a question of "which side?" There's no "phone a friend" or "ask the audience" answer anymore. It's 50/50. 

Dree McCarrel