Brands that stopped Republican donations: making a stand or going with the flow?

Many major brands have publicly stated that they will stop donating funds to Republican senators who voted to overturn the US election results last week. These include Facebook, Coca-Cola, Amazon, Airbnb, and American Express, according to website Popular.Info. Hallmark has even requested refunds.

But, like Twitter banning Trump from its platform days before his term ends, these gestures have an element of following the times, rather than making a stand. Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated next week, so brands are pretty safe in publicly dropping Republican Senators like a hot brick — for now.

Leaving aside the question of whether brands should even be allowed to use their money to influence politicians, the sums involved are not huge, considering the size of the brands. Senator Josh Hawley, who raised a fist in salute to the pro-Trump protestors at the Capitol last week, was a popular recipient: his funds included $3500 from Procter & Gamble, and $1000 each from Citibank and Mastercard.

Airbnb donated $2200 to Senator Scott, who is publicly opposing Trump’s second impeachment and preparing for his own presidential bid in 2024, while Ford donated between $1000 to $7000 to different Republican Senators, and T-Mobile coughed up anything from $1000 to $8000.

There is also quite a lot of feeble messaging from many of the brands. It’s understandable that they might want to hedge their bets, but there’s little of the much-vaunted “purpose” on display here. The language is around “pausing” donations from the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Coca-Cola, UPS, Mastercard, Verizon, Comcast and American Express.

Some companies, including Ford, Bayer, and Bank of America say only that they will “take subverting the democratic process into consideration.” Others tell Popular.Info they are doing no more than “reviewing” their political giving: Procter & Gamble, FedEx, T-Mobile/Sprint, Toyota, Exxon Mobil, Walmart etc.

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall
Emma Hall is a journalist and editorial consultant and is the former Europe Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.