Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has, on several occasions, praised specific American fast-food restaurants and products, from Sharpies to McDonald’s. But the brands themselves have kept silent about the president’s endorsements, possibly to avoid being associated with a polarizing president, The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting.
Trump seems to have started a tradition of serving championship-winning college athletes fast food from Washington-area fast-food restaurants. Back in January, as USA Today reported at the time, Trump hosted the NCAA College Football Championship-winning Clemson Tigers. The government shutdown was in full swing that day, and the White House catering staff were furloughed. So some phone calls were made, and soon enough, dozens (if not hundreds) of McDonald’s, Chick-fil-a, Burger King, and Wendy’s sandwiches and other food items were in the Oval Office, ready to be devoured by the hungry young men.
And again last week, Trump hosted the second-tier championship-winning North Dakota State Bison football team, as ESPN reports. Though the government shutdown is over and the White House kitchens are up and running again, Trump once again ordered in fast food, seemingly giving birth to a new Trump administration tradition.
Trump praised the “American” fast food brands for coming through for the hungry athletes.
“We like American companies, OK? Go eat up. Enjoy yourselves, everybody.”
Despite the free publicity and the endorsement from none other than the Chief Executive of the United States, the fast-food suppliers were suspiciously silent on both occasions. In fact, the only response was a tongue-in-cheek one, which came from Burger King, chiding Trump for a spelling error.
“due to a large order placed yesterday, we’re all out of hamberders. just serving hamburgers today,” the burger giant wrote on Twitter.
Similarly, Trump famously signs documents with his preferred brand of writing utensil, Sharpie markers. Yet, Sharpie has been suspiciously silent about Trump’s endorsement.
Tim Calkins, who teaches marketing at Northwestern University, says that in this case, the brands are reluctant to be associated with Trump.
“I think these companies probably squirm a bit.”
In the past, a presidential endorsement would have been an unqualified boon to any business. For example, whenever Barack Obama visited a restaurant, the restaurant would almost always tout his visit on social media. An ad-industry executive called likened such a visit to “winning a Michelin star.” Similarly, back in 2014, Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz took a selfie with Obama on a Samsung smartphone, and Samsung reveled in the free publicity.