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Has the election season hurt Trump the brand?​​

November 3, 2016 at 6:25 PM EDT
In the past if you added the Trump name to any building, its value would have automatically increased, the effect of Donald Trump’s work to create a huge, global brand that includes products, real estate and, most recently, a campaign. But since the GOP nominee announced his candidacy back in 2015, there are signs that his brand has depreciated. Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: How is the presidential campaign affecting Donald Trump’s business empire and the brand that is so central to it?

Our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, has the story. It’s part of his weekly series, Making Sense.

PAUL SOLMAN: From the get-go, Donald Trump the candidate has pushed Donald Trump the brand.

DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: We have Trump Steaks. And, by the way, if you want to take one, we will charge you about, what, 50 bucks a steak. “Trump” magazine is out. And it’s called “The Jewel of Palm Beach.” And we — it’s all — it goes all of my clubs. I have had it for many years. And it’s the magazine. It’s great. Anybody want one? Here, take one.

PAUL SOLMAN: But it’s not so much products Trump’s been hyping as his locations, locations and locations.

DONALD TRUMP: A lot of people think this will be the greatest par three anywhere in the world. It’s 800 acres in the middle of Miami. It’s been a tremendous success. This is the most coveted piece of real estate in Washington, D.C.

PAUL SOLMAN: Coveted, that had been the mark of a Trump-branded property.

ROBERT PASSIKOFF, Brand Keys: If you were looking for an apartment, is this place OK for you?


ROBERT PASSIKOFF: How about this place with the big Trump on it?

PAUL SOLMAN: Brand consultant Robert Passikoff has studied Donald Trump for decades.

ROBERT PASSIKOFF: He was a human brand. He was an icon for the good life. People aspire to luxury. They aspire to glamour. They aspire to money. The great brands imbue what would just be a product with real, real values that people aspire to.

PAUL SOLMAN: For which they have been willing to pony up a premium, 30 percent for condos and hotel rooms.

ROBERT PASSIKOFF: You and I could have built the building, and it could’ve been a wonderfully luxurious building, and we could get $1,000 dollars a square foot for our apartments. But if we put the Trump name on it, we could get $1,300 or more for it.

PAUL SOLMAN: The value of Trump’s brand going forward was actually a matter of public dispute before the campaign. He claimed it was worth $3.3 billion. “Forbes” magazine put the total at just $125 million.

So, what is the human brand known as Trump really worth? One recent hint, the latest jewel in the crown, Washington, D.C.’s old post office building, now a deluxe hotel, which the Trumps debuted just last week.

DONALD TRUMP: Many, many years of love and happiness and everything else.

PAUL SOLMAN: Inside, love and happiness. Outside, not so much.

PROTESTERS: The people united will never be defeated.

PAUL SOLMAN: More ominous for the Trump brand, rooms expected to fetch $700 or more a night have been advertised for $400 and were still going empty when rival hotels were fully booked.

And in Trump’s business home base, New York City, what I like to call anecdata — random interviews, that is — suggests a similar trend.

We’re right across from the Trump International Hotel, right?

How many of you are more likely to buy a Trump product or go to the Trump Hotel now? Less likely?

MICHAELA KOZACZKA: I would be less inclined now, given the things that have come out over the course of this campaign.

MAN: Less likely as well. Yes.

PAUL SOLMAN: Less likely.

MAN: Absolutely. You don’t want to give someone business that kind of treats people that way.

DIONY RODRIGUEZ, Tour bus promoter: I never bought a Trump product, but I been in the Trump International Hotel.

PAUL SOLMAN: Would you go there again?

MAN: Not anymore.

WOMAN: I buy labels, but not Trump, no longer.

MAN: I’m not buying no Trump products.


MAN: Because he’s an idiot.

PAUL SOLMAN: Of course, this is true-blue Midtown Manhattan, not exactly a bastion of Trump support. On the other hand, liberal enclaves are where so many Trump properties sit.

And visits are demonstrably down at almost all of them, says Sarah Spagnolo of mobile app firm Foursquare, which tracks foot traffic electronically.

SARAH SPAGNOLO, Foursquare: Fewer people are going to his properties since he announced his campaign.

PAUL SOLMAN: This is actual data from some 50 million monthly users of the app.

DONALD TRUMP: You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet.

PAUL SOLMAN: Gathered before the “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced.

SARAH SPAGNOLO: When you look at the 15 months before Trump announced his candidacy in June of 2015, as compared to the 15 months following that announcement, there’s been a drop in absolute visits of 17 percent.

And when you look at women in particular, there’s been a drop of 21 percent. And we feel rather confident that the decreases that we’re seeing in foot traffic are likely to be correlated with revenue.

PAUL SOLMAN: We did find one new Trump consumer.

TRUMP SUPPORTER: I buy his hat. I buy his T-shirt. I buy everything.

PAUL SOLMAN: And when we asked Donald Trump Jr. for his appraisal, he pooh-poohed the notion of brand depreciation.

DONALD TRUMP JR., Executive Vice President, The Trump Organization: People are going to react. They’re going to overreact. They’re going to do what it takes to — oftentimes to fill a sort of P.C. niche. And I think, in the long run, it’s not going to change anything for us.

PAUL SOLMAN: And given the fervency of Trump’s support elsewhere, it’s impossible to know otherwise.

DONALD TRUMP JR.: There’s aspects of it that could be great. We’re not doing this to leverage business, you know? When my father did this, he’s like, could be good, could be bad, I don’t know. But, in the end, none of that matters, because what matters is making sure we fix the country. I mean, that’s the bigger message.

So, for him, it was a much bigger picture than what — there was no consideration as to what it would do to the business. It was about, I have to do this an American.

PAUL SOLMAN: But Nela Richardson chief economist at real estate firm Redfin, claims the brand has become a clear and present danger.

NELA RICHARDSON, Redfin: Before Trump became the Republican nominee in 2015, there was definitely a premium. After Trump became the Republican nominee, that premium disappeared. It was like there was nothing special at all about having a Trump-branded condo.

PAUL SOLMAN: As a result, says Richardson, sellers are no longer touting the Trump name.

NELA RICHARDSON: After that brand took a hit, and there was less good buyer sentiment towards the brand, there was this big drop-off in that use of the Trump name. And so, for condos that are currently listed, far fewer of them actually use that Trump name in the listing.

PAUL SOLMAN: In fact, in Manhattan, there’s even evidence that the Trump brand is becoming a liability. According to, sales of Trump-branded condos dropped more than 26 percent in the past year, a period when the overall market was up.

And at Trump International and Trump Place, more condos were delisted this year than last.

Film and TV producer Linda Gottlieb lives at Trump Place.

LINDA GOTTLIEB, Trump Place Resident: The brand is only as good as the name, right? If you think of Trump, and you think of beautiful lobbies and well-built buildings, then of course the brand is worth something. But if you think of Trump and you think of racist, misogynist, lying, anti-immigrant — what did I leave out? Then the brand is certainly worth a lot less.

PAUL SOLMAN: Trump Place is a complex of seven buildings, condos and apartments, that Trump helped develop, but doesn’t own.

Recently, Gottlieb, who’s lived here for four years, started a petition to remove his name from the rental buildings; 500 of her neighbors have already signed.

LINDA GOTTLIEB: Mr. Trump can put his name on steaks and wine bottles and neckties, and I don’t have to buy those things. But I do have to come into my home every day, and I do have to see his name.

PAUL SOLMAN: But she won’t have to see his name as much as she used to. The landlord is replacing the Trump-named doormats and building staff uniforms.

LINDA GOTTLIEB: I’m embarrassed to tell a taxi driver where I live. I’m embarrassed to have my kids come. People say you — you live in a Trump building? How can you feel good about this being your home?

PAUL SOLMAN: Robert Passikoff thinks even the Trumps are now distancing themselves from the all-too-human brand.

ROBERT PASSIKOFF: The new hotel chain that Trump, in fact, does own is going under a name other than Trump.



They’re hoping that they will sneak this one by as something that millennials will come to.

PAUL SOLMAN: Nothing sneaky about it, says Donald Trump Jr., a key executive of the Trump Organization, and indeed the scion of the family.

DONALD TRUMP JR.: We wanted to make sure that we could actually take advantage of some of these great four-star properties that are luxury, that are more catered to perhaps a millennial crowd than what you have seen, whether it’s Chicago, whether it’s D.C., whether, you know, these opulent, very luxury hotels. So, we have been working on that for years.

PAUL SOLMAN: And in any case, he insists, his father’s controversial campaign will have little effect on the family brand.

DONALD TRUMP JR.: I think his brand has been around. He’s been a relatively controversial guy for decades. You know, I think that continues. I mean, there’s some people that may be affected by it, and there’s others that you pick up. In the end, it’s probably, you know, net-neutral, and doesn’t really change much. But we will see.

PAUL SOLMAN: Reporting from branded Trump properties up and down the East Coast, this is economics correspondent Paul Solman.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, online, the election has helped reveal that a lot of voters are angry about America’s economic challenges, but how grounded is that anger in the facts? Test your knowledge at