Brands and the inauguration: Who's in, who's out

A swearing-in ceremony unlike any other has forced advertisers to make a tough decision.

Brands and the inauguration: Who's in, who's out

It’s a troubling time for brands when they risk alienating 50 percent of their customers just by supporting the American President. But the day has arrived, and even many of the companies that shied away from the Republican National Convention are in Washington to take advantage of the huge crowds—whether they’re there to applaud Donald J. Trump or protest him.  Here is a tally of the brands who have decided to show up or sit out. Check back for updates throughout the day.


In: Norisol Ferrari

When Melania Trump visited Arlington Cemetery ahead of today's inauguration, she wore a military-inspired jacket and coordinating dress from Norisol Ferrari. The designer of Hispanic descent, who is an American citizen, echoes the president-elect's thoughts on immigration, telling Women's Wear Daily that her South American parents "were not immigrants who ran underneath some fence to get through" to the United States. She also hopes "we can be a less angry nation."

In: Reem Acra

FLOTUS matched the shimmering candles at a dinner in Union Station last night when she wore a golden dress by Lebanese-born designer Reem Acra.

In: Aflac

In 2013, Aflac donated $50,000 to Obama’s inauguration efforts. The insurance company will continue its presidential support this year, serving as lead sponsor for the Georgia State Society Ball and sending a delegation of senior executives for various inaugural events. "Aflac is firmly committed to good governance and corporate citizenship," said SVP of Corporate Communications Catherine Blades in a statement. "Part of this commitment involves being fully participatory in the democratic process. In the past, we have participated in the inaugural activities of president elects from both the Democratic and Republican parties."  

In: Southern Co.

The Georgia-based energy company gave $100,000 to Obama’s inauguration committee four years ago, and this year, Southern Co. spokesman Terrell McCollum said, "Southern Company has a long history of supporting the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and has done so again this year."

Out: Allen Edmonds

Every president from Reagan to Dubya wore a pair of Allen Edmonds shoes on Inauguration Day. In 2009, President Barack Obama broke tradition and opted for foreign-manufactured Cole Haan. Although the American-made Allen Edmonds would fit Trump’s patriotism, when asked if the president elect will don a pair, publicist Michael D. Grossman said, "not to our knowledge."

In: Chick-fil-a

Trump’s aversion to the press is no secret, but somebody has to feed the journalists more than incendiary tweets. On Inauguration Day, Chick-fil-a will provide lunch to press covering the event. "Our bias is neither elephant nor donkey—but chicken," said Chick-fil-a spokesperson Amanda Hannah when asked about the paid catering order.

Out: Bacardi

Although the rum brand sponsored an inauguration party in 2013, Bacardi director of corporate communications Amy Federman said the company will not participate this year.

In (sort of): Cadillac

When President-Elect Trump takes office, he’ll get a brand new ride. Nicknamed "The Beast" by President George W. Bush, the tricked-out Cadillac is unlike any other on the market and has served past presidents for the better half of 50 years. However, don’t consider this government contract a formal endorsement. According to Cadillac’s Director of Brand Marketing Melody Lee, the brand has no relationship with Trump, despite a few of his resorts being part of the company’s hotel program. When asked if she’s afraid of being associated with him, Lee responded, "He’s our next president, and the presidential limo is a Cadillac. There’s nothing to be afraid of."

In: Coca-Cola

The Wall Street Journal reports that Coca-Cola continues to donate money to the presidential inauguration—no matter who’s in office. A company spokesman said its most recent contribution is "in line" with the $430,000 it gave to Obama four years ago.

In: Delta

Delta Airlines is sponsoring the Georgia State Society inaugural ball alongside Aflac, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Held last night, the event was headlined by pop star Andy Grammer.

Out: The Honest Company

Although founder Jessica Alba appears as a team adviser in the latest season of "Celebrity Apprentice," The Honest Company is not backing Trump in his inauguration. "We are not an active sponsor of ‘The Apprentice’ series and have not endorsed the show or its creators," said Director of Marketing Communications Jennifer Kroog Rosenberg. "Filmed nearly a year ago, our limited involvement in the show was meant to showcase our mission of building a healthy and conscious future for our customers and providing safe and effective products for families everywhere."


UPS told both The Wall Street Journal and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the brand is donating to the inauguration, but would not release a figure. The shipping company didn’t give to Obama’s 2013 inauguration, but it has contributed to past presidential swear-ins.

In: Wal-Mart

Company spokesman Greg Hitt told The Wall Street Journal that Wal-Mart is sponsoring an inaugural ball and donating $150,000 to Trump’s committee. During Obama’s 2013 inauguration, the retailer served as an event sponsor but didn’t give to the inaugural committee. 

Out: Tom Ford

When fashion designer Tom Ford told both "The View" and Elle magazine that he would not dress the future First Lady for the inauguration because "she’s not necessarily my image," the president elect was not pleased. Trump told "Fox & Friends" that hotelier and inaugural committee member Steve Wynn was also outraged by Ford’s remarks and "threw his clothing out of his Las Vegas hotel." Wynn Resorts later released a statement confirming that Ford’s cosmetics and sunglasses lines were removed from the hotels following the incident.


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