Do companies really think you want to make a political statement while buying ice cream OR want to virtue signal to minorities while you’re buying brand new sneakers?
Nike’s choice for Kolin Kaepernick comes as a surprise for some, but not for all. For years multinationals and corporations have been picking sides and dividing consumers, getting the opposite effect they wished for and hitting where it hurts: the profits.
This sort of political siding has only gotten worse after the election of US president Donald Trump, as the establishment still sees itself as the counterculture.
Right after Nike’s decision to pick the jobless NFL player who refused to stand up during his country national anthem, as their face for the company’s new campaign marking it’s 30th year anniversary, the reaction was immediate: a boycott of the company was already being called for on Twitter with term #NikeBoycott being trending and people burning and cutting their Nike shoes and socks to pieces. Not only Nike shares have fallen as backlash erupted over the new ad with investors worried about such a divisive and hasty decision, as so did their favorability across all key demographic groups (US). What does this mean? Of course that in the far left, an army of woke athletes tweeting about it and praising the brand’s moves on becoming the choice of the ‘forever oppressed’ might create a lot of buzz and make the sales go up in the next few weeks in order to virtue signalling for their peers, but long-term profits is what matters for any company, and in the eyes of most key demographics, a lot of people will likely not buy their shoes anymore.
The culture war and siding by corporations doesn’t stop in sports, it goes through every sector of society including entertainment, media and even food. Take for instance Ben & Jerry’s, the progressive ice cream company from Unilever. Two years ago, it launched the ‘Empower mint’ ice cream in support of the American domestic terrorist group Black Lives Matter, facing a boycott from ordinary consumers who don’t want to side with its politics. Last year, the company launched the ‘Home Sweet Honeycomb’ in which part of the profits of this ice cream goes directly towards Refugees resettlement in Europe, with even a Refugees Welcome Sign on the logo. Though the company refuses to disclose it’s sales details, last year’s list of the top 10 most popular ice creams flavours none of the most ‘progressive’ ones mentioned above made it to the top 10 and neither did in 2016 when other virtue signalling products were launched.
The mainstream media, however, is the one who has taken the most losses out of the polarization taking place in Western societies. CNN, one of the main ‘woke’ news stations against US president Donald Trump took a serious dip on ratings, causing severe losses for the channel with his main right-wing competitor, Fox News having more than double the viewership. The situation for the mainstream media and their journalists is getting so dire that more than a third of large U.S. newspapers have suffered layoffs since 2017. The same trends are also being seen in Europe but with one particular difference: varying from country to country, newspapers have access to public funding, keeping them at bay for now. Media state funding was raised recently in Italy in which 5 start movement minister Luigi di Maio threatened to cut off all funding to Italian media which would mean the complete collapse of the Establishment press in Italy.
The trends are all the same throughout much of the Western World, companies and corporations make these risky moves in order either to virtue signal or to create a lot of buzz across social networks, hoping that the wave of hysteria, false sense of morality and high entitlement pays off but ultimately causing a lack of interest, seeing their shares and sales long term going down following such divisive tactics, ‘shooting themselves in the foot’.
In the end, the market will teach corporations that these are wrong marketing tactics or keep seeing their losses going down. Most consumers while buying their shoes, eating their ice cream or even reading their newspapers do it because they have a need for them or simply want a moment of leisure, not because they want to virtue signal their neighbours next door about the next oppression Olympics.