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Mixing Politics & Business is (mostly) Dumb

In a local supermarket carpark I spotted an aggressive right wing “JuLIAR” anti-carbon tax sticker in the top right corner of somebody’s rear window. Five feet later I turned back towards the car and noticed it belonged to a company. Branding on the side door and politics in the back window. Oh my God, No. Unless of course you’re a mining company… I guess then it could make sense.

A Company is Legally a Person, but…

Before anybody sends me a factional ball-busting via my email address let me put you straight on one point. Business… is not… about… your politics.

Maybe you didn’t hear me so I’ll go to some length to explain that a company is a legal person in its own right. It’s a person without a vote. But it’s a person who can exchange goods and services for money; it can be stolen from and it can steal from others; it pays tax. A company can be ethical or unethical depending on the type of business and the people who engage it. But a company is still only a business. It’s not a real person; a company is a legally recognised pseudo-person created for business transactions.

This should give you a clue as to why personal politics doesn’t belong on that company car. The business isn’t the owner. Not legally. Not actually. And definitely not in the voting context. Even if their business isn’t a company, if they are a sole trader or a partnership, it still doesn’t make sense. It’s kind of (mostly) dumb.

The Marketing Message is Off Message

Now step back a moment and think about the business marketing message a few million Australian Labor Party voters take away from the political statement on that company car. Aside from the fact the business owner could be an aggressive political stooge with an agenda other than serving customer needs.

It translates as… “Labor voters are stupid”… “Labor voters are not welcome”… “We reserve the right to treat anybody who doesn’t agree with our political opinion as a lesser customer.” The message is OFF MESSAGE. The message is “Our brand is political. Our brand takes sides.” If our brand happens to sell pens, matresses, accounting services or dildos I can just about tell you for a fact that a brand shouldn’t take sides. Not in an election. Not on a hot topic like human induced global warming and carbon pricing. Not when it’s easier to serve both opinions in that debate equally for maximised profit.

Taking sides is just plain redneck dumb, unless they sell mining equipment or something justifiable to the long-term marketing strategy.

A brand shouldn’t be about giving potential customer’s a quick punch in the face in the carpark. Unless, as mentioned, they sell mining equipment to Gina Rinehart.

Businesses don’t Vote

My point is that when a business owner sticks political messages to their company car it goes beyond a personal statement and becomes the marketing message of the branded business. Because brand is the perception in the mind of the market and that sticker affects that perception. Just like the way the business owner dresses for success instead of trotting out in flip-flops. Just like they don’t kick a stray animal. Just like anything else they do as a person in reference to being that business reflects back onto the business brand – the perception in the market – with a laser light of intense scrutiny.

Were I that person’s business consultant the first thing I would do would be to walk down to their car and remove that sticker.

Businesses don’t vote.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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