Trump is urging you to boycott Coca-Cola. It is still served by his estate.
Former President Donald Trump has called for boycotts of a variety of corporations in recent years. So it’s not surprising to see him add Coca-Cola, Delta, and other corporate behemoths that recently spoke out against Georgia’s restrictive voting rules.
But now that he’s back at his business, which specializes in hotels and hospitality, it’s a little different for him to be urging people to boycott Coke. The manufacturer of a variety of drinks that his guests enjoy — and that he is known to enjoy as well.
So we wondered: Isn’t it easy for Trump to ask his supporters to help him? Is he, however, able to back up his boycott demands with action?
We do know that Trump may be having difficulty putting into practice what he preaches to his supporters. The former president was pictured smiling in a photo posted by an advisor with what appeared to be a Coke bottle on his desk at his Mar-a-Lago resort days after the boycott announcement earlier this month. He was a well-known lover of the caffeinated glory that is Diet Coke, reportedly drinking 12 cans a day while in office.
But, aside from his own consumption of the carbonated beverage, Trump should, in principle, be able to coordinate a Coke boycott at his family’s properties. CNN reporters set out on a quest to put the theory to the test over the last two weeks.
On April 8, a CNN reporter sipped a Diet Coke at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., which has served as a headquarters and magnet for Trumpworld over the past four years. The soda was $9.00, but a polite and knowledgeable waiter offered two free refills; the big boss’ opinion of the soda was never stated. At the Trump National Doral golf club in Miami, a second CNN reporter sipped a Diet Coke at the club lounge.
Despite what he said, the former president does not seem to have taken any steps to prevent Coca-Cola products from being served at properties named after him. Behind the eponymous Donald J. Trump ballroom in Doral, a CNN reporter noticed a case of Diet Coke bottles open and ready for use.
On April 14, a CNN reporter was served a Coke without hesitation at the otherwise empty bar of DJT restaurant inside Trump’s Las Vegas hotel. (Another CNN employee couldn’t help but note a fridge stuffed with Coca-Cola goods, including not only the namesake brand, but also Sprite and Fanta, as well as juices from its Minute-Maid line, right next to a bun, in a nearby souvenir shop.)
When contacted by phone, staff at Trump golf clubs in New York, Charlotte, and Washington, D.C. said they were still serving Coke.
On April 8, a reporter ordered a Diet Coke and a kale salad for lunch at the Jean-Georges Nougatine restaurant at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City, and hospitable waitstaff delivered both with no questions asked.
The restaurant is not operated by the Trump Organization, and it is unlikely that the Trump Organization has any input about what sodas it serves, but the hotel does not have its own bar or room service and, according to its website, offers food and drinks from Nougatine to any guests who want room service.
Since Trump assets are contractually bound to sell Coke, it’s likely that they won’t be able to dump it. Soft drink manufacturers also provide facilities, marketing, and assistance to large hotel and food service providers in return for companies to serve their goods, according to Robb Seltzer, director of food and beverage operations at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.
After that, switching suppliers is difficult because it creates a significant interruption in operation, he said. The Trump Organization did not respond to a CNN query about whether it was dumping any of the offending company’s drinks. A request for comment from a spokesperson for Jean-Georges was also ignored.
The Trump Organization did not respond to a CNN query about whether it was dumping any of the offending company’s drinks. A request for comment from a spokesperson for Jean-Georges was also ignored.
We’ll be the first to say that this isn’t our most serious piece of investigative reporting. However, Trump’s hypocrisy in urging people who trust him to avoid Coca-Cola while continuing to market the beverage at his properties should not be overlooked. Trump is now the most powerful figure in the Republican Party, with the ability to sway who his supporters vote for, how they shop, and, in some cases, how they channel their anger.
“We should take Trump’s boycott seriously because of the growing influence of social media,” said Rohit Deshpande, a Harvard Business School professor of marketing who studies brands and leadership. He pointed out that boycotts like this can gain traction on social media sites like Facebook and have an effect on brands’ reputations.
Trump has a history of promoting boycotts against companies such as AT&T (T), CNN, Harley-Davidson (HOG), Apple (AAPL), Macy’s (M), and Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT). As he called for a boycott of Coke, he also said that his followers should avoid “Major League Baseball… Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS, and Merck.” On the other hand, he has praised companies like Goya and MyPillow whose executives have expressed support for him.
Coca-Cola (KO) did not respond to a request for comment on the boycott or its links to Trump Organization assets. Americus Reed, a consumer behavior expert and professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, believes Coke expected a backlash to its decision to speak out against the Georgia legislation.
It’s a tricky dance for a brand, but there may be some market benefits for the soda company in the end: Reed believes that the consumers Coke will benefit as a result of its status will outweigh the negative consequences of a Trump-led boycott. He claims that some people will now drink Coke because the company is seen as a leader in the industry “in opposition to voter suppression And it is a very strong force.”