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2017-02-04 13:08:11
Early Signs Suggest Trump’s Actions Are Taking a Toll on Trump Brand

Since the day Donald J. Trump began his presidential campaign, there were questions about how the Trump brand would be affected. Would his stream of insults hurt viewership of “The Apprentice,” or sales of Ivanka Trump shoes? Or was all the attention good for business, a marketing adage President Trump could have learned during his time as a reality television star.

The answer may surprise him.

Major companies appear to be re-evaluating their relationship with the Trump brand, which, in some instances, does not appear to have benefited from Mr. Trump’s presidency. Hinting at lackluster sales, Neiman Marcus confirmed on Friday that it had dropped Ivanka Trump’s jewelry line from its website. A day earlier, her brand disappeared from Nordstrom.com. News that the retailers had dropped Ms. Trump’s brand had earlier been reported by Racked.

Other companies also seem worried about how protests over the president’s actions, particularly his recent executive order on immigration, could hurt sales.

On Friday, MillerCoors, a brewing company, contacted Shannon Coulter, a founder of GrabYourWallet.org, a campaign pushing for boycotts of Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and other businesses associated with the Trump name.

“He wanted to talk about why they were on the list and getting off the list,” Ms. Coulter said. “Just given the traffic levels that we’re seeing on the website, I think all the companies are paying close attention.”

At a time when social movements can begin online, brands face more pressure than ever to respond to consumer demands. Organizing a protest or calling for a boycott has never been easier.

Chris Allieri, a marketing consultant with Mulberry & Astor, said, “Before he became president, I think that a lot of consumers were indifferent to the Trump brand.” Mr. Allieri added, “It’s going to be harder for people to ignore the connection.”

The MillerCoors name appeared on GrabYourWallet.org after Peter Coors, a board member of its parent company, Molson Coors, lent his name to a fund-raiser for Mr. Trump in June. In a statement, MillerCoors said it did not support candidates in presidential races, but respected the rights of its workers to do so.

“Boycotting our brands only harms hard-working employees and their families and is counter to the positive progress that we should all be encouraging and delivering at a time when our nation seems so divided,” Marty Maloney, a spokesman said.

Mr. Trump and his daughter have both stepped away from executive roles at the Trump Organization, which still earns money from Trump-branded golf courses, hotels and other properties around the world. (Ms. Trump has also stepped away as head of her brand.) Because Mr. Trump’s company is privately held, it is hard to know for sure what impact his presidency has had on his businesses. But the merchandise side of the Trump licensing empire may be more vulnerable to negative attention.

“Retailers around the country are going to say, do we need the aggravation or not,” said Wendy Liebmann, chief executive at WSL Strategic Retail, a consulting firm. “It’s hard to imagine that if a brand is really, really doing well, a retailer like a Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus would cut off their nose to spite their face.”

Rosemary K. Young, senior director of marketing for Ms. Trump’s brand, said in a statement that the company would continue to expand, and that it had “significant” year-over-year revenue growth in 2016.

Representatives for Macy’s, which sells Ms. Trump’s clothing, handbags and shoes did not respond to requests for comment. The retailer dropped Mr. Trump’s clothing line early in his campaign after he called Mexican immigrants “killers” and “rapists.”

Companies have also faced pressure to back away from “The Apprentice” franchise, of which Mr. Trump is an executive producer. Last month, the Japanese motoring company Kawasaki said it would pull its sponsorship, although it appeared to backtrack somewhat from that statement within hours.

Ms. Coulter said that the Honest Company, whose products will appear in an episode of “The New Celebrity Apprentice” this month, had committed not to advertise for the rest of the season or next year. A spokeswoman for the brand confirmed it had limited involvement with the show, which has not yet been renewed for 2018.

The president’s role as executive producer may repel some potential advertisers, and his association with the show has not helped viewership much. On Thursday, Mr. Trump asked people — perhaps jokingly — to pray for the company’s ratings at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

Mr. Allieri, who supported Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, said, “If you’re looking for a good opportunity to advertise, I would look beyond ‘The Apprentice,’ because there’s not going to be an upside.”

Whether they like it or not, brands associated with the Trump name have become politicized. Just days after #DeleteUber began trending on Twitter — a response to criticism that the ride-sharing app had undercut protests of Mr. Trump’s executive order on immigration — Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, resigned from the president’s economic advisory council.

Nordstrom, which mainly sold Ivanka Trump shoes, said that demand for Ms. Trump’s products had not been strong. The company still has some merchandise from previous orders that it plans to sell in stores. For the time being, the relationship appears to have ended.

Nordstrom could still choose to buy Ms. Trump’s products in the future.

In a statement, Neiman Marcus said that it “continuously” assesses productivity to determine where its products are sold. Some jewelry will still be available in the stores.

After apparel, Ms. Trump’s shoes account for the largest portion of her company’s revenue. Three years ago, the brand predicted that shoe sales would reach about $35 million last year at wholesale, generating roughly $2 million in royalty fees, according to documents from the beginning of 2014 obtained by The New York Times. Jewelry was predicted to reach about $7.5 million, or $300,000 in fees.

At the time, Ms. Trump seemed to be having more trouble with Mondani, which makes her handbags.

“We think the handbags are terrible,” the documents said. “They don’t.”

Representatives for Mondani did not respond to requests for comment.