WASHINGTON - When it comes to politics, some companies are learning the hard way that planning ahead is the way to go.
"There are groups organizing to make a political point that will ensure that you as a brand will get decimated if you take a position," said Eric Schiffer, chairman of the Los Angeles-based Reputation Management Consultants.
Keurig, the popular coffee machine maker, found itself mired in controversy this week when the liberal Media Matters for America mounted a social media campaign demanding the company pull its advertising from Fox News' "Hannity." Media Matters targeted the group in protest over how it felt Sean Hannity handled coverage of the sexual assault allegations against Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.
While many people posted videos to social media showing them destroying their Keurig coffee machines in protest, Hannity later urged his fans to stand down after Keurig's CEO apologized to its employees for the controversy.
"This is the power of social media," said Schiffer. "A brand chugging along thinking they are just doing fine, and does nothing because they don't pull out can become a lightning rod."
Schiffer suggests that companies carefully plan their marketing to consider the potential audiences and how the messages may be interpreted.
"CEOs and brand managers are freaking out because they are not sure how to play this," he said. "What they have to understand is that wherever they may be advertising, they have to consider the options, they have to consider a political plan. Especially today, it's hyperpartisan."
As for the long-term effects for Keurig?
"I don't think it's going to be as significant to the NFL protests because of the flag, but a lot of people will hold it against them for some time, and that is the challenge in today's environment," said Schiffer. "It's tough to be a brand."