There is a lot at stake in the upcoming 2020 election. If conservatives really want to impact culture in any meaningful way, they must hold their nose and take a page from the progressive left’s playbook. Boycotting isn’t nearly as effective as corporate marketing or putting your agenda up for sale. And everything is always for sale.
ithin a week of Alabama passing the controversial “heartbeat” legislation, filmmakers loudly virtue-signaled to one another and vowed to boycott the state. Actress Alyssa Milano, the de facto third wave feminist leader, put out a call for women not only to boycott all hetro-sex until the heartbeat legislation, or the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, was overturned, but for producers, who often film in the state, to take their dollars elsewhere. It may be easy for conservatives to scoff at Milano’s hysterical sex tactic, but her call for boycotting the state should sound very familiar to our ears. Progressives work hard at pushing the corporate world to respond to causes they champion, and it’s time for conservatives to start taking notes.
But it isn’t just progressives who employ economic sanctions to support causes they care about. Governments also have a long history of employing economic sanctions as a weapon against dangerous and rogue states, such as the recent doubling down on the Islamic Republic of Iran. The old adage that money talks is a powerful one because it’s true. But the progressive left has found the secret sauce to the lobbying recipe that has rendered right-leaning causes tasteless and unimaginative—corporate activism.
The relatively recent phenomena to weaponize corporations to promote progressive causes, including deplatforming conservatives from banking systems, may be far more organized and deeper than conservatives realize. The tactic of using global brand names, recognizable and sometimes trusted by consumers, not only gets their message out to a wider audience but helps to create the illusion that their far left causes are more mainstream than they actually are.
Additionally, progressives are excellent at forming grassroots organizations and non-governmental organizations by using disparate legal entities and corporate and nonprofit talent, in this case by raiding corporate board rooms, to not just steamroll ideas they find offensive but to market their own agendas for them. By pushing corporate board room talent to do their heavy lifting, progressive institutions are, quite literally, smoking the opposition. It’s a brilliant ploy. By using corporate executives and board members to employ their extensive marketing expertise from deep pockets to advance their agendas, the left has also made a marriage made in hell for the right.
And the trend is growing. In recent years we have seen an increased rise in corporate activism, from Nike choosing Colin Kaepernick to celebrate it’s 30-year “Just Do It” campaign anniversary to Gillette actually risking its own customer base and brand by depicting a male with lipstick as the new face of its razors and encouraging men “to be the best you can be.” Chips Ahoy, owned by giant Nabisco, a subsidiary of Mondelēz International, chose to use a cross-dressing drag queen to honor mothers on Mother’s Day.
As in most industries, corporations are incestuous institutions, with chief executive officers and financial officers floating back and forth among a handful of large and powerful corporations. Top talent and brain power is routinely poached from what appear to be disparate industries. Take Christiana Smith Shi, for example.
Shi, a Standford graduate who also holds a masters from Harvard University’s School of Business, was once the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of e-commerce for Nike, where she worked from 2010 to 2016. Shi now works for UPS but sits on the board of Nabisco, who just delivered a man posing as a woman to wish America happy Mother’s Day. It would be naive to believe that Shi has not been heavily influenced by the activism-marketing ploys Nike used to increase its sales from $4 billion to $7.9 billion or from her elitist, east coast university cabals.
Activism is the newest marketing ploy these corporations are using to reach fickle young consumers who wish to believe their buying decisions are based on their environmental or economical principles. We all know millennials have eschewed big corporations for mom and pop coffee shops, organic bakeries and sustainable shoes. And predictably, corporations and progressives, who already control the universities and media, held their noses and climbed into bed with the enemy in order to advance their goal of fundamentally changing America—and making a shit ton of money.
It really is a brilliant move by corporations such as Nike, who have a long history of working with activists to advance its own brand long before anyone ever heard of Colin Kaepernick. Nike doesn’t actually care about black equality, but rather seeks to enrich its shareholders by capitalizing on racial tensions and tapping into the marketing etho that corporations must believe in something to reach consumers rather than being the soulless corporate entities that they actually are. In an article by Black Perspectives, writer E. James White, details Nike’s long history of working with activists, including Director Spike Lee, to monetize its ties with black athletes while still managing to appear altruistic.
Ironically, Nike employs marketing that shamelessly uses minority athletes and feminists to target fair-minded and naive millennials, yet continues to employ near slave labor in third world countries to produce its athletic wear. But that is just a pesky fact that doesn’t interfere too much with the optics its smoke-and-mirror marketing programs create. It has mastered how to make young, politically ignorant consumers feel good about their product while simultaneously exploiting cheap overseas labor.
Just how far the sportswear industry has become entangled with progressive interests can be neatly illustrated when Greenpeace launched its Detox Challenge last summer, which targeted global brands including Nike and Adidas with the aim of stopping their suppliers from dumping toxic chemical waste into waterways around the world. Within weeks, Nike produced a plan to go toxic-free by 2020 with similar plans announced in the same record-breaking time by Adidas and Puma.
But Nike has a long history of promising feel-good programs it doesn’t actually deliver on, which you can read more about in my article Walking a Mile in American Made Shoes. Under the Obama administration, big name shoe manufactures such as Nike and Adidas had promised to bring manufacturing back to the United States, with Nike predicting it would hire up to 10,000 people if the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was passed. Eric Liedtke, Adidas’ executive board member responsible for global brands, also announced a manufacturing plan at a July 2, 2015 event in New York ostensibly held to unveil the company’s Ultra Boost shoes, which were made from plastics and netting dumped in the ocean.
Oregon-based Nike, however, has not made good on opening manufacturing facilities in the United States. Rather than looking at the 99 percent opportunity to manufacture shoes in America by rolling back the unfair advantage that foreign manufacturers now enjoy, Nike appears more worried about their profit margins and continued access to cheap labor. Even Nike’s promise to bring jobs to America wasn’t exactly honest. First, it was basing its promise on the passage of the TPP, which is now dead in the water, and it was never looking into manufacturing facilities in say, Pennsylvania, Ohio or Kentucky, but Nicaragua and Honduras.
Converse recently launched its 2019 line of LBGT Pride sneakers collection, which is aimed to appeal to young buyers. Converse joined years ago the push by other athletic brands such as Adidas and Nike who also “celebrate” National LGBT Month each June. What is concerning about Converse’s 2019 roll out is that this year the ads feature an 11-year-old drag queen, Desmond Napoles, also known as Desmond is Amazing. Moral issues aside, it seems that social programming ads are aimed at ever more younger audiences.
It would be naive to believe that Harvard and other ivy league graduates who later become CEOs of some of the biggest global corporations, haven’t been brainwashed by left-wing professors and university activism. In fact, Harvard pulled Barilla pasta from its dining halls after founder and Chairman Guido Barilla gave a radio interview in Italy where he said, “I would never do a commercial with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect, but because we don’t agree with them. If gay customers didn’t like that, they could go buy another brand of pasta.”
Following his remarks, Barilla dropped 21 spots on the Reputation Institute’s annual ranking of companies. According to Bloomberg, the week after his comments, Guido agreed to meet with Parks Liberi e Uguali, a nonprofit that works with employers on LGBT inclusion, and the Tyler Clementi Foundation, which focuses on ending “bullying and online harassment.” Colzani hastily implemented “diversity and inclusion training” and “unconscious bias” courses for the entire workforce. Although founder Barilla had a definite opinion about homosexuality, he was no longer free to speak his mind. The company CEO went into overdrive to mitigate any reputational damage its founder had created. The gay lobby had become that powerful.
But back to those CEOs. All the company’s efforts were overseen by Kristen Anderson, the chief diversity and inclusion officer (her actual title) and a former chemical engineer on Barilla’s research and development team. Anderson, not surprisingly, also heads an internal committee of about a dozen employees that meet regularly to gauge progress on initiatives such as co-creating packaging with disabled customers and promoting women to leadership positions.
All of the progressive left’s pandering paid off when at the Pasta World Championship in Milan, where Barilla did exactly what its chairman had promised would never happen: It unveiled a limited edition of its most popular product, Spaghetti No. 5, wrapped in a box illustrated with two women holding hands, a single strand of pasta held between their lips in a nod to Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp.” The ad was even designed by Olimpia Zagnoli, an Italian artist who had advocated for boycotting Barilla in 2013.
Darel E. Paul, in his book, From Tolerance to Equality: How Elites Brought America to Same-Sex Marriage, says “Today San Francisco Pride is sponsored by Fortune 500 giants like Coca-Cola, Google, Nike, Bank of America and Apple. Nearly half of all Fortune 500 businesses espouse a ‘public commitment to the LGBT community’ through marketing and sponsorship.” But let’s not get lost in the weeds. This isn’t about the homosexuality agenda or any other left-wing cause, but rather how they have managed to successfully leverage the power of corporate pocketbooks to advance their agenda.
Companies are using social missions to gain market share. Tom’s Shoes and Warby Parker both have “buy a pair, give a pair” programs. Chipotle highlights its sustainability efforts and Starbucks promotes fair trade coffee, marriage equality and racial justice. What we do not see are corporate programs that push conservative ideals, and that isn’t just unfortunate, it is causing us to lose the culture war. The right has already lost the educational system and entertainment industries and is now being trounced in the corporate wars. With the exception of companies such as Hobby Lobby and Chik-fil-A, most corporations have remained cowardly silent on conservative issues. Even Hobby Lobby and Chik-fil-A’s corporate battles have been wholly rooted in defense of their corporate values rather than employing the power behind their institutions to promote right-wing ideals.
Of course, this is all just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to left-leaning corporate activism. The challenge, as always, is what are we going to do about it? Is it half-time or is it game over. #Reignwell