BLOWBACK: Donald Trump Is Ruining His Brand For Years To Come


There has been plenty of attention to Trump’s campaign woes, his alarming Russian connections, his hidden tax returns, and his fascination with nuclear firepower. But ever since Trump came down the escalator at Trump Tower to throw his proverbial hat in the ring a year ago, one story has consistently flown under the media’s radar: his continued self-destruction as a commercial brand.

Via TPM, we now have data on the hit that businesses under his brand are taking.

Before Trump launched his campaign, infamously calling some Mexicans “rapists,” in June 2015, Foursquare data shows foot traffic had been steady year-over-year and potentially saw an uptick.

But after he became Trump the presidential candidate, Foursquare found his properties didn’t see their usual seasonal boost and, by August 2015, the share of people hoofing it to all Trump properties was down 17 percent from the same period in 2014. After stabilizing to single-digit losses, the start of primary season primetime in March 2016 saw a 17 percent drop in share of people at Trump properties.

The picture is more dire in the breakdown of foot traffic to Trump properties in traditionally red vs. blue states, bearing in mind that Trump properties are located mostly in blue states and rely on guests who live in the region, according to Foursquare. Across Trump locations in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Hawaii, foot traffic started to take a hit in March 2016, with the year-on-year share losses widening to 20 percent in July.

The losses were even worse among women, whose visits sustained double-digit losses. In blue states, Foursquare found visits from women to Trump properties were down 29 percent in July.

Foursquare published their data at Medium, including this handy chart that shows the damage to seasonal traffic.


The properties that were hardest hit were the Trump SoHo, Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago and Trump Taj Mahal, down 17–24% in raw foot traffic this past year as compared to the previous year. Incidentally, Trump Taj Mahal just yesterday announced that it will be closing its doors after Labor Day, citing an ongoing employee strike as the reason; our foot traffic report shows the problems ran deeper.

That’s right, the Trump Taj Mahal is closing in measurable part because Trump’s ‘political incorrectness’ on the campaign trail is repelling potential patrons. Trump’s self-inflicted brand damage will be a factor in every bad news item we see about Trump properties and businesses for years to come.

Of course, this isn’t necessarily something to celebrate: the Trump brand is attached to many businesses that are owned and operated by other people, many of whom paid for the privilege, while the staff and employees are the first to lose when venues shut down.

But this has been a slow-burning story since the day Trump declared his candidacy. What follows is a by-no-means-exhaustive list consisting of links that I’ve been collecting in a bookmarks folder:

  • Univision dropped out of the Miss USA Pageant after Trump said that Mexicans were “rapists;” Trump responded by suing them
  • NBC also dropped him from Celebrity Apprentice for the same reason; Trump also threatened to sue
  • Then Macy’s dropped their Trump menswear collection; he responded by accusing them of supporting illegal immigration
  • In December, Dubai-based retailer Lifestyle dropped all their Trump products after he proposed a Muslim immigration ban, and a golf course development in the Emirates had to distance itself from him
  • The next day, Trump Towers Istanbul announced they were reassessing the brand; since then, increasingly-dictatorial Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pressured the company to drop his name
  • Then Nuburger, a beloved Canadian restaurant, dropped ‘The Donald’ as the name of one of their signature sandwiches. While the chain didn’t have a licensing agreement with Trump, the change demonstrates that ‘Trump’ branding was becoming toxic worldwide
  • That same day, Trump’s bid to host The Open golf tournament in 2020 at his newly-purchased Turnberry club in Scotland was rejected by the sport’s British governing authority
  • By January, Politico Magazine was publishing data that showed Trump’s brand collapsing among the high income consumers that form the backbone of his customer base
  • In April, Forbes published a survey that found 45% of respondents earning over $200,000 a year actually plan to make a point of not patronizing any Trump-branded establishment over the next four years
  • During May, travel website Skift announced a survey result in which 57% of respondents said they were less likely to stay at a Trump-brand hotel because of his candidacy

Ever since Trump destroyed his creditworthiness in a series of bankruptcies, he has relied more and more on his personal brand as a source of income. To that end, he has slapped his name on every sort of commodity, large or small: neckties, suits, wine, vodka, steaks, mortgages, hotels, boardgames, resorts, etc etc etc. Some of them have been infamous failures, and even infamous scams, but the money never stopped flowing anyway because the Trump name still held value.

Not anymore. The value of Trump’s name has been much reduced, the damage will last a long time, and he has no one but himself to blame.

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