Writing about Donald Trump is a complicated process. Recent coverage concerning him ranges from his business practices and understanding of political ethics to the beauty pageant he owned until last year. One thing is certain: Trump has garnered a substantial amount of public support throughout the 2016 presidential election campaign.
Donald Trump is also a cheesy, stereotypical fast-talking businessman. He's loud, he makes bold statements that attract media attention; Trump seems to subscribe to the idea that no publicity is bad publicity, even as FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver branded him "the world's greatest troll."
The Donald is popular -- but problematic. With presidential aspirations and accumulated primary wins vaulting Trump (and subsequently, the Trump brand) towards the Republican nomination, is there any ceiling on Trump's popularity?
Top republican candidates gather on stage for the Fox News Ohio Primary. Photo: AP
Sure, against the rest of the Republican candidates, it's easy to see why so many people like him. He's brash, he wants to "make America great again," (Who DOESN'T want to live in a great country?!) and he promises to resolve a great many of the pain points weighing on the American people.
So, how does the upstart politician's brand fare against other established voices? Read on to find out.
There's a new breakfast king in town.
As a marketer, I swear I've seen brands deploying similar tactics to the Trump campaign in anticipation of launching a new product to help it 'go viral.' Take Taco Bell, for example.
In launching their own breakfast line, Taco Bell entered a crowded food service space among QSR brands, drawing attention from established rivals like McDonald's and Burger King.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. pic.twitter.com/e0dFN1ZCqy— McDonald's (@McDonalds) March 29, 2014
McDonald's, for example, called Taco Bell's breakfast offerings 'flattery,' implying they were only enjoyable as a contrast to 'actual' breakfast food people were already accustomed to ordering each morning at McDonald's counters across the country. Significantly, however, Taco Bell was able to control the conversation in the context of fast food breakfast. By exerting this control, Taco Bell has been able to continually generate slightly more interest on social media than entrenched rival McDonald's.
Controlling perception is everything in reputation management.
People laughed when Taco Bell announced their breakfast lineup, "who wants tacos for breakfast?" But breakfast at Taco Bell is certainly not a flop or a joke. With strong consumer support, Taco Bell was able to quickly establish itself as a serious contender in a crowded space where other QSR entities like Subway have been unable to make significant headway.
People laughed when Donald Trump announced his candidacy, too. "The guy from the Apprentice?" I remember someone balking. Trump is certainly not a flop or a joke, either, despite predictions that he was both from the start. His strong public opinion polling has allowed Donald to secure the lead in presidential delegate awards, even while the conversation around him continues to conspire to see Trump fail.
Photo: New York Post, 1/20/16
Taco Bell, too, was mocked ruthlessly by its rivals in entering the crowded QSR breakfast space. So, as both brands (in their respective spaces) have stabilized their positions and even continued on to introduce new products, projects, and proposals, we thought it would be interesting to see which is America's favorite cheesy brand across social media. Thus, #TrumpVSTaco was born.
(Technically, we're testing the Quesalupa, which is Taco Bell's cheesy upstart taco item, against America's cheesiest politician, Donald Trump.)
There can only be one victor in #TrumpVSTaco.
Both of our query subjects have well-established reputations for successful brand management and their capability to control, captivate, as well as respond to public opinion. Both brands have a commanding presence in one arena and a more vulnerable position in another (Taco Bell's regular menu vs. new specialty item; Donald Trump as a businessman vs. politician). Both are incredible subjects for study in social media because they command both volume and depth in their conversation data -- even our initial research suggests there are similarities that make this particular comparison appropriate.
Strikingly, the age demographic charts look very similar among the two queries. Comparison of age demographic data for Taco Bell's Quesalupa and Donald Trump shows that while the Quesalupa appeals to more age groups, Trump holds the lead among older social media users.
In this case, whether you're #TeamTaco or #TeamTrump, I will be amused. Blame it on Taco Tuesday if you want, but we'd like to know which cheese America prefers more? Trump or Taco.
See for yourself.