Donald J. Trump thought he could ride the coattails of his lucrative personal brand and business interests to the White House. But mounting evidence suggests his nasty and divisive run for president is harming his business interests instead.
Traffic is down at Trump-branded resorts and golf courses, consumer surveys show his name now adds less value to a product, he’s become radioactive as a mass entertainer and spokesman, and charities are wary about holding fundraising events at his swanky Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.
Bottom line: His brand may lack the stamina to fully weather his own rhetorical assault on women, immigrants, Muslims, people with disabilities, Gold Star families, and so on.
Family businesses of all stripes struggle to carry on across generations -- only about one-third survive a transition from first to second generation, and just half of those remaining survive the transition to a third generation of family ownership, according to Forbes.
Yet the Trump empire appears positioned to survive, and perhaps regain footing after its namesake’s presidential run, thanks in part to an early and active role in the business enterprise for Trump’s children, who are considered smart and well-adjusted by many observers. They are reportedly running the business during their father’s campaign, and Trump has said they would take over should he win the presidency.
A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization told CBS MoneyWatch the company “remains incredibly strong and we are seeing tremendous success across business units.” But outside evidence -- and at least one of the company’s own recent actions -- suggest the leaders of Trump business units are bracing for election fallout.
The location-based app Foursquare reports traffic is down this year at Trump hotels, casinos and resorts -- a 16 percent tumble in September, compared to the same month in 2015. That decline follows a trend that began in March. The biggest drops in foot traffic are among women and in Democrat-leaning “blue” states -- where Trump has most of his properties, Foursquare reports.
The company acknowledges it does not know how its traffic metric correlates to revenue, though its data have correctly forecast trends in the past: Foursquare, for instance, used its location-tracking data to correctly predict that McDonald’s all-day breakfast would be a hit.
An even more worrisome point for Trump and his family: The slide in traffic began before a recording emerged of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. A parade of women has since accused Trump of groping them after he dismissed the recording as “locker-room talk.”
Those comments have been a thorn in the side of his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida -- a hot spot for fundraisers. The facility is now viewed as toxic by some nonprofit organizations including the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which may move a massive fundraiser it booked there a year ago, The Associated Press reported.
“There’s a cloud over Mar-a-Lago,” Lynne Goldberg of party planner Boca Entertainment Inc., told the AP. She stressed her opinion has nothing to do with politics.
“The sad part is that the venue is so beautiful. It’s considered the ultimate [place] to hold an event in. What we want to do as event planners is to make everyone happy. The last thing you want is for someone to say, ‘Oh my God, how could she hold an event there?’” she said.
The National Organization for Women joined the chorus Monday in an interview with Stat News, calling on women’s health foundations to sever ties with Mar-a-Lago.
At Trump’s new hotel in Washington, D.C., rooms went unfilled despite aggressive discounting during the World Bank-IMF meetings, as leaders shied away from associating with the Republican presidential candidate, New York Magazine reported.
Trump’s career as a mainstream entertainer may be over as well, the New York Post reported last week. The man who hosted NBC’s The Apprentice for 14 seasons has seen his brand value tumble at least 50 percent, James Moses, head of United Entertainment Group, told the Post.
“I do not think Trump has a future in television, especially mainstream format,” Moses said. “The best thing for his brand will be to allow his kids to take center stage and let them be the face and personality of Trump Inc.”
In fact, surveys by Brand Keys shows the value the Trump brand adds to a consumer product or service has fallen from 43 percent to 25 percent.
Perhaps most telling: A new line of lifestyle hotels by Trump Hotels, announced in late September, will carry the brand name “Scion.”
The consumer message to Donald Trump, perhaps: You’re fired.