It now turns out that Donald Trump may indeed be someone who is studied in college for years. Not as a politician but as an example of a CEO who destroyed his own brand. As The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder points out, the predictable has now happened: his poll numbers are seemingly going faster than New York seniors to Florida in wintertime and his TV show ratings are nose diving, too — all at a time when he was effectively dumped from the Indianapolis 500:
Enduring two weeks of excruciating humiliation has put a major dent in Donald Trump’s “presidential campaign” (probably also his in ego). First, his base of support–birthers–has been cut in half following the release of Obama’s birth certificate, per a new Washington Post/ABC poll. Last April, 20 percent of Americans thought Obama was born abroad; now the people who believe that–call them “after-birthers”–are down to 10 percent. A couple weeks ago, Trump had stormed to the top of the GOP field. This morning, a Suffolk University poll of New Hampshire voters has him drawing a measly 8 percent. He’s so toxic that the Indianapolis 500 has decided not to let him drive the pace car this year. But there has to be a silver lining. As several people have noted, Obama cut into Sunday night’s episode of “Celebrity Apprentice” to announce that Osama bin Laden had been killed. That drew the biggest TV audience ever for an Obama speech. So surely Trump, whose ratings have plummeted since during his campaign, got a nice little ratings spike as a result, right? Wrong. I checked with the Nielsen folks. His ratings were flat.
We’ve run other posts here about his ratings and the successful move to boot him from the Indianapolis 500 (which was done in typical fashion with a face-saving statement from Trump and a typical corporate p.r statement).
Before Trump decided to become Mr. Birther he was a charismatic, bombastic celebrity. And it was due to his fame and lovable bully image that the Trump name on a TV show, clothing or a condo meant something. He has now cheapened his brand to where to many Americans it seems his name might be more fitting on a bag of nuts at CostCo.
Branding is really important. A brand can shoot itself in the foot and recover. But Trump was out there so much due to the way he inserted himself into the news cycle.
As noted here before, Trump’s TV show is losing viewers because it had more Democrats in its audience mix than any other NBC prime time show. These Democrats weren’t pleased and there is a point where they felt they a)saw enough of Trump and didn’t like what they saw b)did not want to watch a show associated with him.
A lot of folks didn’t like what they saw. So the question became whether as a businessman and brand Trump could make up in customers to his endeavors what he lost. Most likely Trump, in the end, will lose more over the years than gain. It’s kind of like Ross Perot who started to soar in the polls until he dropped out and talked about how Bush operatives were trying to ruin his daughter’s wedding.
The good news: the air Trump sucked up is now back in the room and others running for the GOP nomination now have a better chance to make their case.
Perhaps he can rehabilitate himself by appearing on “Dancing with the Stars.”
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.