Advertisers Want Media that Trump Watches & Reads

Eric Zuesse

On April 5th, Laura Nichols at Morning Consult bannered “Advertisers, Consumers Take Notice of Trump’s Unusual Media Diet”, and reported that:

Advertisers are scrambling to adjust how they reach the White House, … faced with a president who prefers Twitter and Fox News to a more wide-ranging media diet.

Bill Pierce, an executive at public relations firm APCO Worldwide, explained that in the past, figuring out how to target the president would be underway before a new administration took office. This time around, some marketers are still looking for answers because they were anticipating a Hillary Clinton win.

“[The outcome of the election] was a surprise to a lot of people. Everybody kind of made their plans based on a Clinton presidency, and this has meant a lot of questions, a lot of curiosity about how to talk to him, who to talk to, and what’s important,” Pierce said. 

Advertisers aren’t only aiming to attract the attention of the American public to their brands; nowadays they also are aiming to attract the attention of the American President. Selling to a consumer will mean only the profits on the sales to that particular individual, but selling to the nation’s leader could mean far more than just that: perhaps federal contracts, or, ultimately, even special consideration in the event that a regulatory agency of the federal government might be considering whether or not to bring an enforcement action — and there are also many other ways in which a corporation’s drawing favorable attention to itself could possibly more than justify the choice of an advertising medium that reaches the U.S. President, instead of one that doesn’t.

Naturally, using the facilities of a hotel or other business that has the Trump name on it might similarly help to achieve a favorable federal result, but it also might attract undesirable attention from journalists who are ever on the watch for possible tradings of favors. By contrast, no one is going to object to a corporation that just happens to be advertising on some medium that the President of the United States watches or reads. It’s far safer to take that approach.

These are some of the reasons why “Advertisers are scrambling to adjust how they reach the White House.” Donald Trump’s tastes aren’t necessarily like Barack Obama’s tastes, nor like the tastes of the person whom many national and international brands had been aiming to attract at the time when their current advertising schedule had been drawn up: Hillary Clinton. An advertising schedule is determined by numerous considerations, and, of course, increasing sales will always be the biggest factor, but it’s not the only one.

In previous eras, and even in countries today such as Saudi Arabia where royalty still exists, pleasing the ruler might have been (or be) the main consideration, but America is generally considered a democracy, and therefore the opinions of the public usually count far more. In this regard, a nation that’s ruled by an aristocracy can be very different from a nation that’s ruled by its public. The leading advertising agencies operate in many countries at once, and therefore necessarily know and understand each particular culture in which they operate. What succeeds in one national culture can be very different from what succeeds in another. This is part of the reason why international brands need international advertising and public relations agencies — ones that operate successfully in all of the countries where the given corporation’s brands are being sold.

Here is how Mr. Pierce’s firm, APCO Worldwide, expresses that:

Activism. Disruption. Fragmentation. Purpose. Partnership. Scrutiny. These are just some of today’s forces of change. Thriving among them requires a unique diversity in thinking and understanding, a depth of expertise, an intimate appreciation of stakeholders, and a nuanced yet fact-based approach. This is exactly what APCO delivers.

For over 30 years and with more than 650 employees representing more than 40 nationalities, we have used our campaign instincts to help the most innovative organizations create game-changing possibilities and solve complex problems. We do this for all types of organizations, in all industries – in the most high-stakes situations. Embracing complexity and partnering with clients enables us to guide them through a changing, global environment, so they can make an impact and shape the future.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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