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Richard Marx hates Trumpism. Can political conflicts lead to profit?

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Singer and songwriter Richard Marx says nothing about politics on his website when he talks about his 14 No. 1 singles, his road to success in pop music, and his philanthropy.

It saves the political anger for Twitter.

On the social media account, which he has had for 12 years, Marx is referred to as a “Twitter slayer” because of his cutting and sometimes cruel remarks, which are often directed against former President Donald Trump and his family. He calls Trump voters “MAGATs” and idiots and says the Republican Party’s tenets are bigotry and racism.

And he wants you to buy his new book too, a memoir called Stories to Tell, which came out this week.

In another country or generation, alienating nearly half of the electorate may seem like a bad marketing strategy. Yet the # 1 book on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list last week was Conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing the Mob,” starring Martin DuGard. On Friday, Marx’s book was number 1 on Amazon in the niche category “dancer biographies” and total hardcover sales were around 1,000, a respectable figure for the genre.

Marx’s snappy takedowns of Trumpism alienated some former fans, but also earned him admirers on Twitter, where he has around 312,000 followers. His public sparring with conservatives like former Happy Days star Scott Baio and Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul has got him even more prominent. (Paul blamed “C-list celebrities” for promoting violence against him and his family after a suspicious package was delivered to his home in May.)

In marketing jargon, such free promotion is called “earned media,” which can be invaluable in building a business or selling a book.

And at a time when party affiliation is becoming more and more part of our personal identity, some companies are trying to capitalize on partiality, such as the Conservative Grounds coffee shop in Florida and the MyPillow brand of Trump supporter Mike Lindell, which continues to like before a major advertiser for conservative issues is media.

Is that a smart strategy or a dangerous one?

Bigmouth domain

In videos and interviews, Marx has stated that he was politically independent and a private person who had never thought of writing a book until he began collecting stories that he told on an acoustic music tour. He told Associated Press writer Mark Kennedy (who described the style of “Stories to Tell” as gentle): “When I’m dealing with a racist or bigoted topic on Twitter, there’s no stopping me. I will blow it up. And if someone is after me, I’ll answer, as you can see. “

Marx can be mad at Twitter users who mistakenly say he’s a one-hit wonder (“which one?” He asks) and his tweets about politics are often mundane. But he can be gentler with fans than begging him to stay out of politics. He then suggested that people should be able to separate a person’s politics from their art.

In this file photo dated June 1, 2016, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wears his Make America Great Again hat at a rally in Sacramento, California. Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

When it comes to Trump, however, he doesn’t seem to care who he offends. In Variety magazine in April 2020, Marx described Trump as “despicable garbage” with no redeeming properties. “Right now, I’d rather have Jeffrey Dahmer than Donald Trump,” he said.

Since then, he has gained 82,000 Twitter followers.

Kathryn, dear. It is me who is disappointed that someone who presents as intelligently as you do not have the wisdom to both disagree with someone else’s politics and like their art. I think Jon Voight is a psychotic traitor, but he’s a wonderful actor. https://t.co/DgzpIvmc8O

– Richard Marx (@richardmarx) May 25, 2021

A nation of mini celebrities

David S. Bernstein, editor of Bombardier Books, the conservative imprint of Post Hill Press, said Twitter is a “mixed bag” because publishers want writers to have a large following on social media, but people have book deals because of more controversial ones Lost tweets.

“There are only a limited number of ways you can get Twitter followers. You can post insightful pictures, talk about your life or be a political loudmouth, “said Bernstein, adding,” I’ve always told writers that this is a ridiculous metric. I’ll never drop a writer for what they said on Twitter because I understand the pressure of what it takes to build there. “

However, there’s no evidence that Twitter follower numbers lead to book sales, Bernstein said, unlike YouTube, which has more influence on sales.

“Twitter is kind of an echo chamber, and it’s not clear that everything that happens on Twitter has an impact on the real world unless someone loses their job for something they said on Twitter. So it probably won’t matter that much (Marx). …

“It really becomes a choice of what your brand should be. And I don’t give anyone what they want to do to keep their branding up. How do you differentiate yourself in this day and age when there are a thousand times more celebrities than ever before in history? Everyone is kind of a mini-star. “

Yes, Robby. I’m the only person on Twitter who has ever referred to Rand Paul’s Neighbors. I must have been. It was also a day after that traitor publicly revealed that he refused the vaccine. Besides, you’re a grown man who still uses Robby, so I’m not surprised that you’re an idiot. https://t.co/WzhstQ3h5h

– Richard Marx (@richardmarx) May 25, 2021

In 2017, a Stanford professor made headlines with research that said Americans’ political identity is more important to them than their religion or race.

Indeed, marketers say values ​​play a role in consumer choices, which may help explain why entrepreneurs have tried to capitalize on some conservatives’ aversion to the Starbucks brand. According to Vox reports, these companies include the Largo, Fla., Coffeeshop Conservative Grounds and Salt Lake City-based Black Rifle Coffee Company, a veteran-owned company that supplies premium “freedom-filled” coffee to “people who love “Sells America”, mostly through mail subscriptions.

In Sarah Steimer’s 2019 analysis of political branding on the American Marketing Association website, Vanitha Swaminathan, marketing professor and director of the Katz Center for Branding at the University of Pittsburgh, said: People define themselves. And because it’s an important part of self-definition People, companies and brands have no choice but to address this part of their identity. “

In an email, she noted that brands are increasingly keen to take a stand on controversial issues. and that “if the topic appeals to your existing fans / customers, you will likely benefit from their increased commitment to your brand.”

“Therefore, every brand should identify a topic that aligns with the values ​​and opinions of their core customers,” said Swaminathan.

While Americans tired of political argument may wish politics to stay away from their purchases, partisan differentiation can actually help sell coffee or books in a crowded market, especially if politics are liberal.

In a small study reported in the Harvard Business Review last year, researchers asked managers and MBA students whether they would buy or work for a product from a hypothetical company that promoted either liberal or conservative values.

Respondents who were told that the company represented conservative values ​​saw this in a worse light, while they were more neutral towards companies that promote liberal values. However, the researchers concluded, “Whether or not this seriously affects consumer behavior remains to be seen,” and found that Chick-fil-A, considered a company that promotes conservative values, is on the George campus Washington University, “one of the most politically active universities in the country”, is popular.

In terms of books, it only takes 10,000 to 15,000 book sales in a week to hit the New York Times bestseller list, said Bernstein of Bombardier Books. That means only 4% of Marx’s Twitter followers would have to buy a book to land there.

“In this polarized age there are people who only buy a product from you because of their political stance. There might be more people put off by your political stance. We have such tribalism, and tribalism really shows in book sales, ”said Bernstein. “It’s a competitive world out there. You have to do what you have to do. “

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