Consumers of all ages, races and political parties are hoping to hear bipartisan messages from brands ahead of Wednesday’s Presidential Inauguration, according to the results of a survey conducted this week by Ipsos on behalf of public relations agency Golin.
The report, based on the responses of 2,010 Americans ages 18 and older, details how different demographics are responding to major companies' comments about the results of the 2020 election and the events that followed — notably the siege of Capitol Hill on Jan. 6.
A large majority of respondents (78%) support businesses and leaders that have called for unity and for a peaceful transition of power on Inauguration day.
“America really views corporate America, and CEOs in particular, as having a role and a responsibility in doing something that our politicians can't. And that is trying to create unity and bringing the country together,” said Scott Farrell, president of global corporate communications at Golin.
In the days following the Capitol insurrection, some brands chose to respond publicly on social media, and others have also paused donations to political organizations.
Respondents were even more aligned on the role of the CEO in responding to a crisis, with 73% agreeing that CEOs should call for unity, compared to just 57% who said they believe it is appropriate for brands to respond to political debates.
This sentiment is shared across different demographics, as well as Biden and Trump voters.
Americans of different demographics and political parties agree brands and business leaders should call for unity and a peaceful transition of power. Source: Golin
The more partisan an issue, however, the less people want to hear from companies or its leaders.
While 75% of respondents consider it appropriate for CEOs to express a commitment to solve partisan issues, just 41% believe they should publicly oppose or support specific politicians or government officials.
However, bipartisanship is not the end-all-be-all strategy, Farrell said. Companies like Ben & Jerry’s, which has historically taken strong positions on political and social events, have a history and reputation to back up their actions as authentic to consumers.
“Data has an important role, but so do things like a company's previous record of engagement,” he said. “You don't want companies to speak or act differently externally than they would speak or act with their own employees.”