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Complimentary advice

17 July 2017 | Lloyd Hughes

Politicians used to be one of the few remaining safe targets for brands to mock without fear of backlash.

A few years ago – in a less divisive time – you could stick the boot into a hapless politician, fairly safe in the knowledge that most people, if not outright agreeing with you, at least wouldn’t be too bothered about them getting maligned through a publicity stunt/social media campaign.

These days though, it’s a riskier business. Politics seems to have swung to the extreme of left and right. This increasing split means taking a stance for or against a politician can lead to cheerleading from one faction and opprobrium from another.

Mocking a politician on one side of the political spectrum can see fans of their policies criticising a brand for denigrating them, with media outlets either talking positively about the stunt or slating it, depending on their stance.

For cautious brands then, it can often be off putting. When it comes to social media though, you’re better off picking a side – bland, beige, fence sitting will get you nowhere. Championing one cause or other, will get you the engagement you’re looking for.

On Friday, Reebok seized an opportunity to mock Donald Trump.

His ‘compliment’ upon meeting French President Emmanuel Macron’s wife Brigitte raised eyebrows around the world. Commenting “You’re in such good shape…beautiful” was regarded as pretty creepy to say the least by the majority of onlookers.

Reebok, recognising that Trump, even in such divisive times, is still a pretty safe target for derision, put together a flow chart on Twitter that outlined the occasions it's appropriate to say those words. With most options (revolving around encounters with women) resulting in a firm no, the only scenario it was deemed ok was upon finding an unscathed and forgotten action figure from your youth in your parents’ house.

Fair enough, really.

At the time of writing the post had 79,000 likes and 47,000 retweets, as well as several favourable bits of coverage via various press outlets.

Trump just seems to keep putting his foot in it, which is providing social media fodder for brands keen on taking a political stance. Reebok is just the latest to take advantage of another Trump gaffe in order to enhance its own profile.