This year has ushered in a growing trend: Neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and so-called "alt-right" groups endorsing household brands, including New Balance, Papa John’s, and Taylor Swift. And as some of those companies have learned, simply ignoring the support doesn’t make it go away.
It also doesn’t take much to elicit a full-throated endorsement from those groups, especially not in the hyperpartisan Trump era. During the 2016 election, a spokesperson for New Balance, an American-based company, said that President Donald Trump’s nationalist trade policies would likely be good for business. This was sufficient evidence, according to The Daily Stormer, a Nazi blog, that New Balance was “the official shoes of white people.”
Experts say that these groups are pouncing on brands in an effort to appear more mainstream to the general public. While there doesn’t appear to be a one-size-fits-all solution for brands that find themselves “endorsed’ or hijacked by groups, experts agree that companies should have a plan. Those plans shouldn’t be limited to damage control after the fact; brands should also take steps to shield themselves from white supremacist support.