The real question any experienced brand marketer asks when evaluating potential brand spokespersons is whether the celebrity under consideration truly embodies that meaning and values of the brand. Is the spokesperson relevant to the brand, evocative of the brand, and credible to the message about the brand? Karl Malden hawked traveler’s checks because he played a tough, gritty cop who was savvy about criminals. Jennifer Aniston promotes cosmetics. And yes, Tiger Woods was once an immensely popular and spectacular golfer, and a helluva powerful spokesman for Nike.
When a President refuses to honor the nation’s prior commitments, insults our allies, and attempts to curtail free speech and an independent press by slandering those who disagree with him as "fake news," he is not aligned with the brand values of the United States of America.
And, yes, when a crude thug shoves the leader of another nation, he is not aligned with the brand values of the United States of America.
In one of those moments of serendipity, this writer arrived back in the United States the day that the Pew Research Center announced the findings of a major global poll designed to understand how attitudes towards the United States have shifted as a result of the election of Donald Trump.
Here is, verbatim, the lead paragraph from that report:
"Although he has only been in office a few months, Donald Trump’s presidency has had a major impact on how the world sees the United States. Trump and many of his key policies are broadly unpopular around the globe, and ratings for the U.S. have declined steeply in many nations. According to a new Pew Research Center survey spanning 37 nations, a median of just 22% has confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs. This stands in contrast to the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency, when a median of 64% expressed confidence in Trump’s predecessor to direct America’s role in the world."
As to our question about Europe?
"The sharp decline in how much global publics trust the U.S. president on the world stage is especially pronounced among some of America’s closest allies in Europe and Asia, as well as neighboring Mexico and Canada. Across the 37 nations polled, Trump gets higher marks than Obama in only two countries: Russia and Israel."
Finally, this paragraph speaks directly to the role that the U.S. President plays as the "brand spokesman" for the United States of America:
"In countries where confidence in the U.S. president fell most, America’s overall image has also tended to suffer more. In the closing years of the Obama presidency, a median of 64% had a positive view of the U.S. Today, just 49% are favorably inclined toward America."
The fact that the reputation of the United States does not fall in a direct, one-for-one relationship with the reputation of its President means that citizens of other nations are easily able to distinguish between and hold different views of the nation relative to those they hold of its President.