How to Talk about the Election as a Brand

By November 16, 2016February 8th, 2017Communications

I know you’re thinking you know what I’m going to say . . . that I’m going to say, “Just. Don’t.” but that would make for a very short post, and isn’t, in fact, what I’m thinking at all. (You don’t know me!) For many brands, the election and its aftermath are totally irrelevant and they should, in fact, not try to leverage the news cycle and trending topics. BAD IDEA; don’t do this.

For some companies, though, current events are totally relevant. Our client, author Hal Movius has a book coming out, Resolve: Negotiating Life’s Conflicts with Greater Confidence (available Jan. 7, 2017 but you should go pre-order from Amazon now.) This book, and what Hal has to offer people struggling with conflict (which is, really, all of us) is invaluable.

Another person we’re working with for whom the election and the behavior of all of us, as a nation is completely relevant is civility expert Robyn Jackson. Robyn, who has blogged here before, owns The Civility School and teaches, counsels and coaches professionals on everyday and international civility. What could be more important than learning the skills of civility right now?

If you are a consumer brand with public spaces for customers consider the story of local beloved bagel shop, Bodo’s. Finding it’s diverse employee base facing some harassment from customers, owners of the business came out with a strong statement on Facebook, and have declared its locations a safe place. I’ve quoted the whole statement below, because I think it’s done well, it’s so authentic and passionate — it’s no wonder Bodo’s has an excellent reputation BEYOND being the best bagels in the country. (That’s right, I said it.)

If something like this is relevant to your business, and you want the community to know that the space you offer is welcoming to all, it’s OK to let people know, but be prepared to back that up and mean it. There’s conflict everywhere.

(This is long — and, we think, worth your time. Bear with us.)

The fact that so many different types of people come to Bodo’s is actually by design. Yes. It really is. From the ground up. On purpose! People, lots of ’em, from all walks of life. Working, waiting, ordering, talking. Coming and going. Spending a few minutes of their lives before moving on to whatever it is that is next. Wide-open kitchens where you can see all of us and we can see you. There is something for everyone, and everyone is welcome.
We’ve always made a point to actively welcome everyone in our stores. Come in, maybe stand in line for a few minutes with students, tourists and maybe some friends, and hopefully get a few smiles while you place your order. Regardless of where you come from, how big your bank account might be, or what lever you pulled on Tuesday. Friendly vibes and a sincere thank-you for everyone. Come again! Hope you have a great day! No need to pick a side. We’re all afflicted with the same human condition. Let’s make the most of it.
By intentionally and actively welcoming everyone (and not just those whom we agree substantially with), we endeavor to foster an environment where everyone can feel good about being part of a community. True. Let’s put our differences aside for a few minutes, and then we’ll really have something.

In the past few days we have had the misfortune of witnessing several incidents of harassment. Against our employees. In our stores. Incidents where our own people, part of our extended family, were harassed. Because of their physical attributes.
So. To our dear employees, beloved families and friends, and good people of our community: in the interests of human decency and standing up for what is right, this behavior won’t be tolerated in our stores. Never has been. If you can’t accept our invitation to come into our store and take your place alongside your brothers and sisters without belittling some of them, then your invitation will be withheld. The other 99.995% of us who see this crap for what it is aren’t going to put up with your behavior. Not in our house. Hope to see you soon.
With love, appreciation, and optimism,
Bodo’s Bagels