Business and Public Politics

John SchnatterMatt Yglesias sent us to a YouGov BrandIndex article by Ted Marzilli, Anti-Obamacare rhetoric and restaurant Buzz. It provides data for what I’ve always said: it is a big mistake to bring your politics into your business—especially when your business isn’t a necessity, like dining out at low quality restaurants. (That’s not an insult; I’m rather fond of Denny’s.)

Marzilli presented the graph below. It shows the Buzz score, “Which asks respondents, ‘If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?'” Basically, it measures how a brand is doing. I think it is is fascinating.

The data for Denny’s is very telling. My take on it is that all John Metz’s bitching about Obamacare caused the Denny’s reputation (that was never that high) to plummet—all the way down to zero. And Metz is just a franchise owner. But as it became widely know that Denny’s CEO John Miller slapped down Metz and set about cleaning up the mess, people felt better about the chain. I think the main thing is that people learned that Metz didn’t speak for the company.

I think this final bit is critical, because of what’s happened to Papa John’s. On 20 November, John Schnatter announced that he wasn’t going to screw his employees or increase prices and that it was all a big misunderstanding. His words were “twisted.” That statement is at best questionable. Regardless, the people didn’t buy it. In fact, when Schnatter made his twisted comment, it seemed only to have reminded people of what an asshole he is, because their Buzz score went down even further.

Buzz Score for Diners Who Complained About Obamacare

All of these places will eventually recover from this. Soon most people will forget it ever happened—not that long term damage hasn’t been done. But this shows very clearly that business owners should shut up and run their businesses. But I think these people are as sheltered as anyone else in the right wing bubble. I’m always reminded of Bill O’Reilly’s comments about “far left wing extremists.” That’s his way of saying “the other.” And for people like John Metz and John Schnatter, they probably think that Democrats are strange people far away and not what they really are: well over half of their customers.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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