Is there a formula that makes these petitions so successful?
Teamwork works and persistence pays off — those are the two things.
These are huge companies and very big forces. Here we have Macy’s, which is one of the largest retailers, and Donald Trump, who is an enormous brand in himself and a billionaire. And then in the background of all of this is actually another monopoly, which makes the clothing, and it’s the same company that makes Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Izod, Donald Trump.
It’s not just a single force, so it’s going to take more than four days to encourage a change in behavior. And that’s why I think persistence has to be one of the ingredients. We can’t challenge or meet their money power but if they think we’re going to continue and maintain, that becomes a factor in the equation.
What is your goal with the Donald Trump petition?
When that birther video came out, that’s what got me frustrated. That was sort of a final straw. But the real reason why I started [the petition] was that I’d come across a letter from Macy’s CEO to Donald Trump from August 23rd. In it, he concludes by saying, “Don’t give up the real estate business yet, but we are developing a meaningful fashion business with your brand.”
And I thought about that because, to me, Donald Trump’s brand is really mean-spirited bullying in order to inject himself in the media cycle for self-promotion. So it seemed very odd to me that a company like Macy’s, which has a counter brand to that, would build a business on top of it.
Where we’ll really start to see the movement is when the people that have signed the petition — and this has already started to happen — are canceling their [Macy's] credit card accounts. I also think we’ll see people just not going there and shopping. And the one thing to keep in mind is there’s more than [650,000] people that have signed the petition, but that I think is only a small fraction of the number of disappointed customers. There are plenty of people that just don’t sign petitions and there are people who don’t really use the Internet or the computer.
A lot of people’s experiences with Macy’s begin even before they’re a consumer. They go as a child to get their picture taken with Santa or they’re enjoying the parade. The relationships have been very long term and people have generally a very positive sentiment about the company. Part of the reason why the reaction has been as strong and powerful as it is, is because of disappointment. The business partnership with Trump is so inconsistent with people’s general experiences and sentiments towards the company.
Follow Ugonna on Twitter at @ugonnaokpalaoka