I had the opportunity to interview a Fortune 500 CEO. We will call him Bob. I have known the guy since college. I never called upon him to ask any favors until now. He gave me the opportunity to discuss corporate influence on the public. The interview took a little over an hour. I put these questions on the table in two parts:
- Do you feel compelled to make a political statement on behalf of your corporation and brand.
- In your marketing, do you feel the venues where your advertisements run reflects or represent your company and it’s political views.
Bob immediately wanted to address question #2. He pointed out that the corporation is a legal entity but has no rights to cast a vote. Our products are not limited to goods for a particular political party. With that said, our products serve any party. We serve good people, educated and ignorant. In other words, as Michael Jordan allegedly said, “Republicans buy sneakers too..”; we must take the position that politics is an issue for the voting public. We are very conscious of where we spend our marketing dollars. For the past years, they have not had a need to withdraw from any marketing campaigns adhering to this policy.
As far as question #1. He pointed out that it’s not in the best interest of any brand to make a political statement. In this time of near equal division, a corporation would be foolish to destroy it’s brand and possibly illuminate half of the voting and non-voting public. He has a responsibility to the stockholders to maximize profits and increase the value of the stock. Further, he said that political contributions are made on a personal basis and usually small. His company avoid supporting any and all controversial groups. In todays environment, that just about covers all organizations. This is the reality of todays business.
At the conclusion of the interview, Bob told me he would welcome any inquiries from my readers. Consequently, feel free to post your questions and Bob will gladly respond as soon as possible.