Nabisco mocks customers upset about a drag-queen Mother’s Day cookie ad. Burger King subtly encourages people to throw its milk shakes at anti-European Union populists. And a beer company advocates hitting such people “over the head with a brick.” Welcome to the new corporate activism and the principle “The conservative customer is always wrong.”
There was a time, not long ago, when businesses largely adhered to the old advice “Never discuss politics or religion.” And when explaining his lack of 1990s political activism, NBA legend Michael Jordan reportedly said, “Republicans buy shoes, too.” But that was before the advent of “woke” corporate activism.
There are, of course, the recent examples of big business threatening to leave states that enact politically incorrect (but morally correct) laws. For instance, Walt Disney Co., Netflix, and other corporations are claiming they may exit Georgia if the state’s new pro-life “heartbeat” bill goes into effect. Netflix has played this game before, too, having joined other entities in boycotting North Carolina after it enacted a pro-sanity “bathroom bill” in 2016. And the NCAA, NASCAR, and other businesses vowed to leave Indiana after the state passed its Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015. Sadly, Indiana and North Carolina both capitulated and watered down their laws to appease the “corporactivists.”
Yet more shocking still is a very recent development. A far cry from “The customer is always right,” Nabisco actually mocked customers who objected to a “drag queen” Chips Ahoy! Mother’s Day advertisement it created.
Of course, that the corporation thought such an ad (below) was a good idea in the first place is shocking itself.
As for Nabisco’s attacks on its customers, LifeSiteNews reported, “‘They’re big mad,’ tweeted Chips Ahoy!, followed by a crying emoji” (tweet below).
they’re big mad ?
— Chips Ahoy! (@ChipsAhoy) May 12, 2019
Then, at “3:33 p.m., when Twitter user ‘Kasy’ said, ‘ppl really bothered by a drag queen being in a commercial, imagine being so fragile,’ the Chips Ahoy! social media team chimed in again, and laughed at their customers: ‘convinced they didn’t even watch the video lol,’” LifeSiteNews also informed.
Nabisco’s social-media team later fell silent, either realizing their public-relations error or having been reined in by superiors. In fact, the corporation wouldn’t even respond to LifeSiteNews’ questions about the affair.
Then there was Burger King’s reaction to Brexit leader Nigel Farage having had a milkshake thrown at him late last month, prior to the European Union Parliamentary elections:
Dear people of Scotland.
We’re selling milkshakes all weekend.
Love BK #justsaying
— Burger King (@BurgerKingUK) May 18, 2019
The fast-food chain later tried to walk back the tweet, but the meaning was clear.
Worse still, however, was a message from a beer company in Manchester, England. As PJ Media reported May 21, “‘Note to our customers: Please don’t throw out beer over fascists,’ wrote Mike Marcus, the director and founder of the Chorlton Brewing Company. ‘Hit them over the head with a brick as is traditional.’”
“In his Twitter profile, Marcus describes himself as ‘Anti-fascist (any means necessary),’” PJ Media continued.
Far from falling silent, Marcus later responded to criticism by “arguing that his call for violence was ‘acceptable,’” PJ Media also informed. He did, however, subsequently lock down his Twitter account.
At least one company, though, is retreating from politics. After a long period during which sports network ESPN lost millions of subscribers, its new president, Jimmy Pitaro, announced last month that he would be steering his commentators away from ideological discussions.
But why did big business suddenly start alienating customers by taking controversial stands in the first place? FS1 host Jason Whitlock discussed this development, as it related to ESPN, on a late May edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight (video below).
Whitlock’s basic point is that ESPN executives got caught up in the social-media Matrix. Because their commentators’ political positions were resonating well on Twitter, they assumed these expressed stances were marketing winners, or at least not liabilities. What they, quite stupidly, didn’t realize is that people responding to leftist commentary on Twitter are an unusually zealous, self-selected bunch. They do not represent an accurate cross-section of America, let alone ESPN’s viewership base.
This phenomenon perhaps influences many corporations, but there’s more to it. A related factor is that corporate pseudo-elites circulate in very left-wing pseudo-elite circles, in a liberal echo chamber. This isn’t an accurate customer cross-section, either, of course, but people can easily mistake their little world for the larger one if that’s all they see.
Also related is that a new generation has entered corporate America the last 10 to 15 years. These younger people are more left-wing, and they’re likely overrepresented among social-media team members.
But it’s not just that they’re perhaps more zealously ideological. Older generations were inculcated with a stronger sense of duty and propriety and greater impulse control. Many among the new guard, however, are more likely to let the personal influence the professional; they’re also more solipsistic, self-centered, and impulse-driven, making them less likely to sacrifice immediate emotional satisfaction in deference to their employer. They’re more apt to represent themselves and not their company — even on the job.
Another factor, however, is that today’s greater polarization and waxing left-wing zealotry may make staying neutral more difficult. There’s great pressure now on corporations to join the Left’s culture-war phalanx, with silence sometimes interpreted as tacit cooperation with the other side.
Of course, some may wish to applaud corporations for standing on — and supposedly being willing to lose money over — principle, even if it’s the wrong kind of principle. But not so fast.
Consider: While Google announced last year that it wouldn’t do artificial-intelligence work for the United States military, it’s helping the despotic Chinese regime censor and oppress its own people. Then, while “PayPal, Apple, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola, have criticized North Carolina’s new locker room and bathroom law as ‘discriminatory’ to LGBT people,” reported CNS News in 2016, “those same four corporations do business in Middle Eastern countries where homosexual conduct and cross-dressing are illegal.”
So much for principal — so much more for profits.
Some now complain about how certain corporations once had dealings with Nazi Germany, but contemporary big business may be even worse. Today’s corporactivism is merely the value-signaling of money whores — the spirit of greed hasn’t changed, just the spirit of the age.
Photo: AP Images