Donald Trump’s namesake business is launching a new hotel chain that – unlike Trump’s dozens of other hotels, golf courses, and casinos – won’t carry the presidential candidate’s name.
Trump Hotels is calling the new chain, which will target young customers, “Scion,” Bloomberg reports.
The new chain’s dissociation from the Trump name could be a sign that the candidate’s campaign is negatively impacting his brand.
Trump’s campaign has been embroiled in controversy in recent weeks. Since the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump speaking crudely about women, 11 women have come forward accusing Trump of sexual assault. Trump has denied their claims and threatened to sue the accusers.
Bruce Himelstein, a former chief marketing officer for Loews and Ritz-Carlton hotels, said the controversy has impacted Trump’s hotel brand.
“He’s now a polarizing figure. When he was putting his hotels together, he wasn’t,” Himelstein told Bloomberg. “There’s definitely an impact.”
- Reuters/Steve Marcus
In the meantime, Hillary Clinton has widened her lead over Trump by about 6 percentage points, according to a Real Clear Politics poll.
Immediately following the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape, consumers’ perception of the Trump brand tanked, according to a survey by Brand Keys.
“Trump was one of the strongest brands around,” Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys’ founder and president, told Business Insider. “He stood for all the aspirational values people like – wealth, luxury, and the good life. Now all that has changed.”
Last year, the Trump name could increase the perceived value of products and services anywhere from 20% to 37%, according to Brand Keys.
That’s because the candidate’s name at the time stood for “wealth, luxury, and glamour, and for some, wretched excess,” wrote Passikoff.
In the wake of the tape scandal, the added value of the Trump name dropped precipitously, according to the firm’s October 9 poll of 1,536 registered voters across the US.
For example, the added value of Trump’s brand in TV and entertainment – the category where its added value is highest – has dropped from 43% to 30% between June and the most recent poll.
His brand value dropped 8 percentage points in real estate and 6 percentage points in country clubs and golf clubs in the same period.
- Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
A brand’s perceived value has a direct impact on where shoppers choose to spend their money.
In other words, there’s more than a bid for the White House at stake for Trump in this election, as his performance could have a lasting effect on his businesses.
The candidate’s hotel chain started losing business before the tape surfaced, according to some industry experts.
Jack Ezon, president of the travel company Ovation Vacations, told The Boston Globe in September that business was down at least 30% at several of Trump’s properties.
If Trump were to be mired in another scandal like the “Access Hollywood” tape, things could get even worse for the Republican nominee.
“There’s a high level of emotional disengagement from Trump,” Passikoff said. “The only way he can turn things around is if he wins the election.”