(Washington) An economic empire built on a name, a name having served a political career. When Donald Trump leaves the White House on Wednesday, he will have a lot to do to rescue a brand now synonymous with all extremes.
Before he became president, “the Trump brand was very powerful,” said Melissa Aronczyk, professor of communications at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “It was a successful commercial brand, a“ symbol of luxury ”, wealth and success.
From luxury hotels to swanky real estate and golf courses, the Trump name is omnipresent in the entities of the Trump Organization headquartered in the Trump Tower in New York on the iconic 5e avenue.
But Trump’s four years in office, marked by extreme positions, and the last few weeks marred by the assault on Capitol Hill by his staunch supporters, have made the dynasty’s business perilous.
The Trump brand has become “toxic” because associated with chaos and racism, summarizes Tim Calkins, professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, skeptical about the repositioning of the brand as the damage is so significant.
Since the violence at the Capitol on January 6, bad news has accumulated.
Many companies have cut their ties or distanced themselves from Donald Trump and his family holding company.
Signature Bank has started shutting down accounts for the president, according to a spokeswoman, while Deutsche Bank no longer wants to do business with him, according to US media.
In New York City, the Democratic mayor ended contracts that allowed the Trump Organization to run attractions in Central Park and a Bronx golf course.
The 2022 PGA Golf Championship will not take place at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey. “Our brand was at stake”, argued last week Seth Waugh, general manager of the organizing body.
Can these setbacks jeopardize the Trump Organization when the COVID-19 pandemic has already severely affected its hotels? Difficult to answer as the Trump galaxy is opaque.
As the group is not listed on the stock exchange, the accounts are not made public. According to the magazine Forbes, the Trump empire generated nearly $ 2 billion in revenue between 2017 and 2019, mainly from golf courses, select private resorts and clubs, licensing royalties, and commercial real estate in New York and in San Francisco.
Asked by AFP on the economic impact of the pandemic and the events of the Capitol, the Trump Organization did not follow up.
The only certainty is that the group has a debt of some $ 400 million.
“It is a tiny percentage of my net worth,” however assured Donald Trump last October, according to the Washington post.
His fortune was estimated Friday at 2.5 billion by the magazine Forbes, against 3.7 billion at the end of 2016, before his arrival at the White House.
The Ivanka card
Despite his setbacks, the president can count on staunch supporters.
“There will always be a group of people who will support Donald Trump whatever he says, whatever he does,” opines Capri Cafaro, professor at American University.
The events of the Capitol finally demonstrated that his supporters were ready to follow him no matter what.
Historically, brands always end up recovering from scandals and controversies over time, underlines Melissa Aronczyk, citing the example of Volkswagen and the case of rigged polluting emissions.
While the billionaire will undoubtedly collapse under court cases in the short term, says Mr.me Aronczyk, but “it is possible that the brand will recover”.
Her future also depends on the billionaire’s place in the media in the future, she says.
“Trump was not a president of the establishment and he will not be a former president of the establishment”, adds Capri Cafaro.
One of the options to promote the Trump brand is also to play the card Ivanka, the president’s daughter, especially since she has taken care to stay away from the latest scandals.
Her brand is “intact”, even notes Melissa Aronczyk.
But the financial rebirth of the Trump brand could go through the creation of a new medium, estimates Michael D’Antonio, author of biographies on the billionaire.
He thus imagines Donald Trump as a “political evangelist” on his own TV channel, accessible via a subscription at 4.99 or 9.99 dollars per month, and broadcast from Florida.