5 signs Donald Trump's brand won't survive the presidential election
Many signs suggest Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will lose the election. He has fallen further and further behind in political polls as the number of women accusing him of sexual assault has continued to rise.
A growing refrain is that the same forces that might lose Trump the election may have already damaged his brand irreparably. Billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, says he thinks it's already too late for Trump to turn things around, comparing him to Bernie Madoff, who is serving a 150-year prison sentence for crimes associated with an elaborate Ponzi scheme.
Of course, there is some evidence to the contrary.
On Monday morning, for example, we got our first clue as to what Trump's post-election ventures might include: Trump's son-in-law and campaign adviser Jared Kushner is reportedly exploring the possibility of a Trump-branded TV network launch, according to the Financial Times.
Now, let's set aside the fact that launching a network in the age of cord-cutting might be — as one industry executive described it to Vanity Fair — a "fool's errand," given the huge costs of launching a cable network, coupled with declining advertising rates.
The simple idea that Trump might become a new face of conservative media is not so far-fetched, and there is big cash to be had: Just look at Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. As USA Today puts it, Trump will likely emerge from the election with about 30 million "fans," and "at the very least, this is a vast tchotchke market: hats, T-shirts, baubles."
But — while they might buy hats and end up as loyal Trump network viewers — what these new fans won't likely do is prop up Trump's existing mainstream luxury businesses, which run on expensive golf club fees, costly hotel rooms, and pricey apartments. Among educated, wealthy consumers and prominent partners, Trump's brand has been tainted.
And public perception of the Trump name's value on TV and in entertainment has fallen 13 percentage points just since the summer, while perception of his brand's value lost 8 percentage points within real estate and 6 percentage points for country clubs and golf clubs, according to the results of a Brand Keys study reported by the Wall Street Journal.
That's not all: Here are five more signs of just how bad things have gotten for Donald Trump, the brand.
1. Trump's newest brand conspicuously lacks his name.
In late September, Trump Hotels announced the launch of a new lifestyle brand, "Scion," which would "nod to the Trump family and to the tremendous success it has had with its businesses... while allowing for a clear distinction between our luxury and lifestyle brands," Trump Hotels CEO Eric Danziger said in a press release.
The word "scion" means "a person born into a rich, famous, or important family."
Omitting his name marks a big change from Trump's previous modus operandi. For decades, Politico reports, virtually all of the products used by the Trump Organization and in his hotels bore his name, from water bottles to sheets.
It is not unusual for a company facing criticism or scandal to change or obscure its name.
For example, cigarette-making conglomerate Philip Morris Companies renamed itself the anodyne "Altria Group" in the early aughts, "thus insulating both the corporation and its other operating companies — notably, Kraft General Foods — from the taint of tobacco," as two University of California, San Francisco, researchers wrote in a 2003 paper in the American Journal of Public Health.
2. People are reportedly "embarrassed" to live in Trump apartment buildings.
On Friday, BuzzFeed published a new report quoting residents of luxury Trump Towers buildings in Manhattan who say they are "embarrassed" to have the candidate's name on their building — a sentiment that at least one of them said was new.
"There was a cachet to it," the resident, who requested anonymity, told BuzzFeed. "But I think that's gone."
3. Trump's luxury hotels are reportedly dropping their rates.
One the major business developments that has taken place for Trump over the course of the campaign is the opening of a new luxury hotel in Washington, D.C., called Trump International Hotel.
On Thursday, New York Magazine reported that no one wants to stay there.
Despite the fact that delegates from both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were in town last weekend for their annual meeting — meaning that virtually every five-star hotel in town was sold out — rooms at the Trump International Hotel could be had for nearly half off, the magazine reported.
4. Trump's net worth has plummeted, according to Forbes.
According to Forbes, Trump's net worth has declined in the last year by about $800 million. According to the magazine, that puts his total net worth at $3.7 billion.
An impressive sum, for sure, but that's a lot less than the $10 billion figure he's tossed out on the campaign trail.
The decline matters, because Trump has built his business at least in part around his larger-than-life persona. According to Mother Jones, Trump has allegedly inflated his net worth in press interviews since the 1970s.
5. Trump University and the Trump Foundation are being investigated.
Let's not forget Trump University and the Trump Foundation.
Back in early September, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman announced he would be opening an inquiry into the Trump Foundation, following accusations that the group mishandled funds.
Then on Sept. 30, Schneiderman sent the foundation a notice of violation, ordering the group to "immediately cease soliciting contributions or engaging in any other fundraising activities in New York."
And that's not the only legal issue that could follow Trump once he leaves the campaign trail.
Right after the election, Trump will have to testify in court on November 28th, as he faces a class action lawsuit brought by former students of Trump University.
Now, whether Trump's brand survives the maelstrom of scandal before him may seem like a matter of little importance, given the gravity of allegations about his behavior.
But Trump himself has said his fame and fortune enable him to "do anything" he wants.
Thus one could argue that Trump, the brand, has everything to do with Trump — the man.