Millionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump, already considered by many Republicans to be more burden than asset, has become a target of opposition for his role as an icon for Macy’s Department Store.
A campaign orchestrated by the same forces that targeted conservative activist Glenn Beck is urging the store to dump the Trump line of apparel and accessories being marketed by the retail giant.
The Dump Trump Effort, a denunciation of the controversial positions taken by the real estate tycoon, was initiated in early November by Angelo Carusone, who led a similar campaign against right-wing provocateur Glenn Beck.
The initiative quickly gained momentum at the start of the holiday shopping season. At a pre-Thanksgiving event, Carusone was joined by dozens of protestors at the Macy’s Herald Square store in New York City to deliver a petition urging the store to remove the Trump line. Two weeks before Christmas, the online petition had 678,439 signatures.
“Macy's: Donald Trump does not reflect the ‘magic of Macy's.’ We urge you to sever ties with him,” the petition, located at SignOn.org, states. “Macy's says it has a strong obligation to be ‘socially responsible’ and that ‘actions speak louder than words.’ Indeed. It's time to act.”
Among the criticisms lobbed against Trump is his perpetuation of what Carusone called the “racially charged birther conspiracy” that accuses President Barack Obama of lying about his birthplace.
He’s also been vilified for his denial of climate change. Soon after Hurricane Sandy ravaged parts of New Jersey and New York, Trump asserted on his Twitter page: "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."
The petition also characterizes Trump as a “sexist,” who personally attacks women he disagrees with by calling them "unattractive," ugly or fat; and as a hypocrite, who complains about jobs being shipped overseas to Asian countries, even though his clothing line is made in China.
The CEO of Macy's defended his company's partnership with Trump in a Nov. 11 email to Carusone, architect of the petition drive.
Meanwhile, current and would-be Macy’s customers have registered their complaints with the company.
On Macy’s Facebook page, user Sharon Watson wrote on Dec. 11: “Dear Macy's CEO. Your store was the topic while standing in a long line to attend a concert recently. The crowd expressed their displeasure that Macy's would be affiliated with someone as racist as Donald Trump, and I agree with them. I will not shop at your stores this Christmas season, and if there is no change in your policy, I will destroy my credit card from your store.”
And at the Dump Trump site, petitioner No. 678431, identified as Pam Brooks, of Oberlin, Ohio, warned: “I am a cardholder and I need to use this card for my family members. But I will cut it up if Macy's does not listen!!”
So far, the department store seemed to have blocked its ears. There have been no apparent moves to remove Trump from the company’s advertising campaigns and his brands are still in the stores. In the only statement addressing the matter, a company spokesperson stated, "Macy's marketing and merchandise offerings are not representative of any political position. Many of the individuals associated with products sold at Macy's -- or at any retailer, for that matter -- express personal opinions that are not related to the merchandise we sell or to the philosophies of our company."
Macy’s recalcitrance may cause an adverse effect during this year’s largest shopping season. According to YouGov’s BrandIndex, a gauge of companies’ popularity among consumers, Macy’s has declined to its lowest brand loyalty levels since the first week of November in 2011.
“Brand loyalty” was measured using a “Recommend Score,” which asks respondents "Would you recommend the brand to a friend?"
Before Nov. 19, the store’s score was 31 compared to an average score of 19 for the department and discount store sector.
As the Dump Trump Effort gained publicity and support, however, Macy’s shed 14 points to its current 17 score, putting it behind many of its major competitors, including Target, J.C. Penney, Wal-Mart, Kohls, Sears, Kmart and TJ Maxx.