Major corporations are nervous about sponsoring this summer’s Republican national convention in Cleveland because they fear associating themselves with presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump will hurt their brand.
CBS News reported Thursday morning that some big sponsors have already pulled out their sponsorships from the convention while other household name companies are considering doing the same.
"With all eyes on Donald Trump’s nominating convention, major companies seem to be staying away from the RNC [Republican National Committee], wary of potential damage to their own brands," CBS correspondent Julianna Goldman reported.
Activists are pressuring past RNC sponsors to stay away from the convention because of the controversial statements Trump has made on the campaign trail. Color of Change, a left-wing civil rights group, is leading the effort.
"This moment is about corporations making a very clear decision about connecting their money and their resources to the type of hate that Donald Trump has been selling America," Rashad Robinson, executive director of the Color of Change PAC, told CBS News. "If any employee of a major fortune 500 company went into work and said the things that Donald Trump says on the campaign trail, they’d be fired."
Hewlett-Packard is the latest company to say it will not attend the GOP convention, and it will also not contribute to the Democratic convention. The high-tech company provided more than $556,000 in cash and in-kind donations to the RNC in 2012, according to Color of Change.
Microsoft, another 2012 RNC sponsor, will not contribute to the convention in 2016 beyond "technical services and products."
Coca-Cola, which gave $660,000 to the RNC four years ago, donated only $75,000 this year.
"Brands are being very cautious around their messaging for these conventions because if they back away from the RNC, that’s problematic, too," Advertising Age managing editor Natalie Zmuda told CBS. "Marketers don’t want to be involved with negativity and don’t want to be associated with a convention that potentially is perceived as alienating some audiences."
Zmuda added that some sponsorships are locked up in advance.
Google and Facebook are both still RNC sponsors, with the latter describing it as its civic duty to be involved.
"Most of the companies we spoke with stressed their decisions were nonpartisan," Goldman noted.
The RNC host committee told CBS Thursday morning that it has raised nearly 90 percent of its budget so far.