This article discusses the ways in which companies and brands project certain political affiliations to consumers. The exploitation or co-option of political or social movements in branding and advertising has been seen for decades, and it is now particularly prevalent since the election of President Trump. In order to be competitive in an era of political consumerism and an age when brands are expected to make a statement or take action regarding political movements, they are facing an increased pressure to integrate values into their brand identities in order to connect to consumers. In this essay, I ask how the commercialization and exploitation of political movements by large corporations prove to be a success for some brands and a failure for some others. Through a case study of the three separate brands—Pepsi, Procter and Gamble, and Nike—and the analysis of their advertisements, owned media, consumer reactions and comments, and previous brand activism/stances, I propose that there are three factors that must be present in order for the co-option of social movements in ads to be successful. These factors are authenticity, a brand's commitment to the issue, and transparency. 1
Simkovitch, Ashley, "Political Consumerism and Branding: An Analysis of the Exploitation of Political Movements for Brand Equity and Profit" (2019). Honors College Theses. 292.