For many brand managers in 2019, there’s no way to avoid the third rail of American life: politics.
SoulCycle and Equinox found this out the hard way last week after reports of an investor and owner hosting a big fundraiser for Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.
When news broke this week that the billionaire who owns the parent company of luxury gym Equinox and fitness company SoulCycle was hosting a fundraiser for President Trump, the fitness community — and more specifically, the LGBTQ community — did not take to it kindly.
Calls for boycotts and gym membership cancellations spread online, and on Friday afternoon — the day of the fundraiser — dozens of protesters gathered outside the gym’s West Hollywood branch, holding signs that read “SoulCycle has no soul” and “Equinox supports a white supremacist.” Cars inching along a congested Sunset Boulevard honked a cacophony of support.
Both companies—which have won over customers with progressive, socially conscious branding—tried to find distance between their operations and the political views of their investor.