Rex Huppke | Who knew workplace success could come so easily?
Traditionally, workers hoping for a pay raise, better job security or improved benefits would work hard, innovate, embrace new ideas and push to make their company more profitable.
But now there’s an easier way to reach those goals: Just get the president of the United States to attack your company.
It may sound like an odd economic driver, but as the upscale department store chain Nordstrom Inc. learned last week, it can be effective.
President Donald Trump, who apparently is not preoccupied with being the leader of the free world, tweeted: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”
The terrible thing our commander in chief is referring to is Nordstrom’s business decision to no longer carry Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. That sort of decision would normally be acceptable under the definition of “capitalism,” but, according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer: “There’s clearly efforts to undermine that name based on her father’s positions on particular policies that he’s taken. This is a direct attack on his policies and her name.”
Nordstrom responded in a statement: “To reiterate what we’ve already shared when asked, we made this decision based on performance. Over the past year, and particularly in the last half of 2016, sales of the brand have steadily declined to the point where it didn’t make good business sense for us to continue with the line for now.”
The outcome? Nordstrom stock dipped briefly after Trump tweeted and then rebounded, with shares closing Wednesday at $44.53, a 4 percent gain that marked one of the company’s best days of the year. By Thursday afternoon, the stock had climbed more than 7 percent since the Wednesday morning tweet.
Social media was swamped with selfies of people hoisting Nordstrom shopping bags and hashtags like #NordstromRocks and #BuyNordstrom.
Overall, a net win for the retailer.
And that’s not the first evidence of a Trump-insult bump.
The New York Times — a favorite target of Trump’s wrath — added 276,000 new digital news subscriptions in the fourth quarter of 2016, making it the best three months the newspaper’s digital side has had in years.
When Trump attacked Vanity Fair over a critical review of one of his restaurants, Adweek reported that the magazine’s subscriptions “rung in at 100 times the amount it typically sells in a day,” marking “the highest number of subscriptions sold in a single day for any Conde Nast publication.”
The Washington Post has also turned presidential condemnation into a “condemnationtunity,” seeing its digital subscription revenue double over the past year.
The ratings for “Saturday Night Live”? Up considerably as Trump continues to bemoan the show’s skits mocking him and others on his team.
It’s like a twist on the Midas touch, where everything King Trump insults turns to gold.
And don’t think companies haven’t already picked up on this. Most of the high-profile ads during this year’s Super Bowl appeared to be multimillion-dollar attempts to subtly jab at the new president’s policies and worldview.
So if you’re angling for a salary bump or even just a few more office amenities, it appears the swiftest path to boosting your company’s bottom line is to goad President Trump into singling out your company for ridicule.
As a hard-working employee at the Chicago Tribune, I devote much of my time to this end. You’re welcome, fellow employees.
But no matter your line of work, there are ways you can contribute to making your workplace great again. Just consider Trump’s primary triggers: hand size; his hair; his wealth; being liked; being right, always; the legitimacy of his presidency; and any poll that reveals something he doesn’t want to be true.
Say you work at a restaurant. Show off your innovation skills by suggesting a menu addition like The Trump Sandwich: bologna served on small slices of white bread (perfect for child-size hands) with a side of Russian dressing. And when people order it, you give them something entirely different that costs more.
Or maybe you work at an accounting firm. Encourage management to launch a “We’ll show you our taxes if you show us yours!” campaign. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 74 percent of Americans think Trump should release his tax returns. Sounds like a winning ad campaign to me.
Workers at any company can suggest commissioning a poll. Gather some co-workers and put together a proposal for a local or national survey that asks people if they think the president of the United States should be going after American businesses that stop buying products from members of his family.
I can’t guarantee what the poll results would say, but I’ve got a pretty good hunch. And it might be just enough to get your company that coveted Trump bump.
Who knew workplace success could come so easily?
Rex Huppke writes for the Chicago Tribune. Send him questions by email at email@example.com.