Trump Bashes Goodyear Over Dress Code

2020-08-24 by Ronn Torossian
Trump Bashes Goodyear Over Dress Code

As much of the country, including nearly all political commentators and media personalities, were watching the virtual Democratic National Convention, President Trump was watching a news trend that has been gaining steam online. Eventually, the President added his clout to the #BoycottGoodyear slogan.

The US-based tire company got on Trump’s bad side after stories circulated, claiming that the company’s official dress code allowed staff to wear clothing supporting social issues such as Black Lives Matter but disallowed political speech such as MAGA hats. Responding on Twitter, the President of the United States urged his followers to boycott tires from Goodyear.

Goodyear responded by arguing that they never actually, specifically banned MAGA hats. That their company rules indicate that employees should “refrain from workplace expressions involving political campaigns…” as well as “forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of racial justice and equity issues…”

Trump’s attack sent the company’s stock price down, before a brief uptick, and the price ended the day down about 2.4%. According to an anonymous source, supporters of his comments blame a screenshot of a slide in Goodyear’s diversity training program that supports LGBT and BLM but bans MAGA and Blue Lives Matter.

In a response, Goodyear said Trump and those angry about the dress code had a misconception about company policy, saying that “Goodyear has always wholeheartedly supported both equality and law enforcement and will continue to do so…”

Goodyear added that the text captured in the screenshot was “not created or distributed by the company’s corporate offices” nor was it part of any company-sponsored diversity training, though the company did ask workers to “refrain from workplace expressions in support of political campaigning for any candidate or political party, as well as similar forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of racial justice and equity issues…”

While it’s common for corporate entities and brands to ask employees not to “talk politics” with customers or otherwise engage in political activity at work, many activists on both sides of the political spectrum have made it a habit of drawing companies into political fights due to position statements or perceived biases.

While this complicates consumer PR messaging, it’s the present reality for brands across most industries, and brands need to be aware and prepared for potential fallout based on perception, even if that perception doesn’t exactly match reality.

After Trump said “a lot of people (are) not wanting to buy” Goodyear, his press secretary doubled down, calling on the company to “further clarify” its official position.

Meanwhile, Goodyear is likely wondering how its company, which is based in a city battling 11% unemployment, suddenly got dragged into a national political campaign. At this point, from a PR perspective, the “how” or “why” is less important than what they do next.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5wpr, a leading pr firm.

Ronn Torossian: Insights from a Native New Yorker and CEO of 5WPR

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 250 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities