It seems every day someone somewhere is boycotting a business for one thing or another or calling for this, that or the other person to be fired for sharing a thought they don’t agree with.
Person A from Business B says this, and then persons C, D and E respond with rage, sparking a 24 to 48-hour hashtag movement they believe will somehow crush Person A and/or Business B.
In the end though, nobody really boycotts anything for long.
And when it comes down to it, brands such as Nike, Starbucks and now Home Depot, among others, love the attention. When people get mad and start posting threatening Tweets over perceived personal or ideological slights, it does little to slow down the income of said businesses.
In fact, it actually seems to have the opposite effect.
In other words, controversy creates cash.
Maybe — just maybe — some of these corporations have figured out there’s a truck load of money to be made by tapping into people’s emotions.
Especially when it comes to social issues.
We are a very impulsive, knee-jerk reacting bunch nowadays: Quick to pull the trigger on a social media outburst or call for someone’s firing at the drop of dime.
When everyone is pulling on our emotional strings from every direction, how hard is it for a company with advertising might to swoop in and take advantage of us?
Just look at Nike, which has reaped huge financial benefits by aligning itself very closely with former NFL quarterback and notorious National Anthem kneeler, Colin Kaepernick.
When Nike decided to feature Kaepernick in a series of ads in 2018 it was the public outrage over the decision which initially grabbed all the headlines.
People from all walks of life who disagree with his politics – Kaepernick started a trend in the sports world of athletes kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of a variety of different things – spoke loudly and clearly, saying they would boycott Nike and stop buying their gear.
Some experts even predicted the end of the brand as a powerhouse in the shoe and sporting goods and clothing industry.
But Nike didn’t sink. Instead, according to a recent article in Forbes magazine, they have prospered.
According to Apex Marketing Group, following the initial backlash, the end result was the company received more than $43 million worth of media exposure from the ad.
On top of that a total of 15,191 investors on Robinhood added Nike to their portfolios when Kaepernick’s ad was released, according to Business Insider. Additionally, Nielsen reported 38 percent of African Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 and 41 percent of those aged 35 or older said they expect the brands they buy to support social causes.
Some might argue that the Kaepernick/Nike team-up is a win for social justice warriors everywhere.
It’s a win for Nike for sure.
Forbes reports that Nike boosted revenues by four percent to just over $10 billion to finish 2018 strong and while the company missed analyst estimates for earnings in its fiscal Q4, North American sales were up eight percent to $4.17 billion — which accounts for nearly 40 percent of the company’s revenues.
Last week Nike and Kaepernick made the news again, this time when the former 49ers quarterback suggested that a new shoe Nike was about to release called the Air Max 1 USA – created to celebrate the Fourth of July and featuring 13 stars in a nod to the original flag designed by Betsy Ross – was offensive due to alleged association with extremist organizations.
Nike decided not to sell the shoe and again social media exploded with the boycott Nike hashtags.
And what do you know, according to Forbes, in response to the attention shares of the Nike stock went up by two percent which added nearly $3 billion in market value for the company.
Coincidence or a carefully planned public relations campaign designed to fill the pockets of Nike board members and Kaepernick?
To be sure the idea of courting controversy to create cash is not exclusive to Nike in the corporate world or strictly a left leaning tool of the trade.
Look at Chick-fil-A, the conservatively themed fast-food restaurant that’s constantly on the receiving and of endless efforts to boycott the establishment by those who lean left.
According to a recent story posted online by Yahoo Finance reporter Myles Udland Chick-fil-A has become the third-largest restaurant chain in the nation and has tripled its sales over the last ten years.
All this while constantly fending off accusations of being an anti-gay establishment.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran a feature pointing out that in 2018, the eatery hit $10.2 billion in sales and has just about doubled its number of locations since 2007.
"Each year since 2015, Chick-fil-A has been the top-rated fast-food restaurant on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which considers factors such as staff courtesy and restaurant cleanliness," the Journal reported, adding: "Among limited-service U.S. restaurants that mainly serve chicken, Chick-fil-A’s market share rose to 33 percent last year from 18 percent in 2009, while the market share of Yum Brands Inc.’s KFC chain fell to 15 percent from 29 percent in that time, according to data tracker Euromonitor."