L.L. Bean is the latest brand to find itself in the thick of the Trump maelstrom.
The company has been facing social media backlash after a liberal group called Grab Your Wallet began encouraging consumers to boycott the brand for its support of President-elect Donald Trump.
The boycott started following reports that Linda Bean, member of the company board and a longtime Republican activist, violated campaign finance laws by contributing $60,000 to a political action committee supporting the president-elect when the usual limit for such contributions is $5,000.
Grab Your Wallet’s co-founder Shannon Coulter told the Portland Press Herald that L.L. Bean needed to understand that “there are repercussions for their company’s brand and bottom line when consumers learn what their leaders are up to in terms of politics.”
However, the company has not taken the backlash lying down. Earlier this week, the company fired back and released a statement, saying that the company as a whole does not endorse any political candidates and that people should not boycott the retailer on the basis of one of the many family members involved in the business personally supporting Trump.
“Simply put, we stay out of politics,” executive chairman Shawn Gorman said in a Facebook post on Jan. 8. “To be included in this boycott campaign is simply misguided, and we respectfully request that Grab Your Wallet reverse its position.”
Linda Bean too seemed to be in no mood to back down. Appearing on the show “Fox & Friends” this morning, the brand’s heiress warned viewers that anti-Trump protesters will hurt not just her, but the company’s employees broadly, if the boycott is successful.
“I’m not going to back down. I never back down,” she said on the show. “If I feel I’m right.”
Trump entered the fray with, what else?, a tweet this morning, in which he encouraged consumers to buy merchandise from L.L. Bean.
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“Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage,” he tweeted. “People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean.”
Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean. @LBPerfectMaine
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2017
Since then, mentions for L.L. Bean have soared, according to data by Brandwatch, with over 22,000 online mentions already today, a number that continues to rise. As of 10 a.m. today, L.L. Bean’s online mentions are already up 905 percent from yesterday. These mentions are also highly politicized and polarized. Slightly more than half (55.7) percent of the sentiment-categorized mentions are still positive, but those who are speaking positively about the brand are Trump supporters, with those speaking negatively about the brand being the opponents.
It remains to be seen whether L.L. Bean will feel any of the negative sentiment affect their bottom line.
@slarkpope my New England parents have bought most of their (sometimes unintentionally matching) clothes there for 40+ years. No more!
— Dangbattleship (@Dangbattleship) January 12, 2017