Stand and be counted, or else.
The battle against the overly politicized life is a never-ending brawl and one that’s only intensified since President Trump was inaugurated, sending the progressive movement into a tailspin.
Seth Matlins, Executive Vice President of Branded Impact at WME/IMG, wrote an opinion post, which TIME published online, demanding brands publicly declare their political allegiance or find themselves irrelevant.
But only if a brand’s political beliefs are the right value set, of course.
Consider that for taking a quiet stand against hate speech by pulling its ads from the alt-right site Breitbart, Kellogg’s is targeted with #DumpKelloggs by readers who saw the brand’s actions as an attack on their values. Target removes gender-based signage from its toy aisle, and outraged customers insist they’ll never set foot in the store again. Audi champions equal pay for women in its Super Bowl ad, and while the carmaker was applauded by some, others pilloried the brand across social media for suggesting things aren’t as they should be . And Starbucks’ stand for refugees and against the recent immigration ban led some to #BoycottStarbucks.
Five weeks into Donald Trump ‘s Administration, and at a time when expressing cultural values can end decades-long relationships in the time it takes to post 140 characters, consumers and employees are looking for new ways to be heard, represented and served. They’re increasingly voting with their voices, their choices and their wallets. Brands need to take heed, or pay the consequences.
What’s clear is that the people buying from you and working for you want to know if you’re on their side. Or not. They want to know if you’re doing something to make the world better. Or not. And they will reward — or ignore or perhaps even boycott — you accordingly.
Matlins argues “brands that nail their relationships with the cultural good are used more, advocated for more, preferred more and even forgiven more than those that don’t.”
What Matlins political orientation is, I don’t know, nor do I care, but the entire post smacks of the progressive desire to politicize everything in life down to our breakfast cereal.
I don’t care what Kellogg’s thinks of gay marriage or how Starbucks makes hiring decisions. I don’t care if Target wants to dip its toe in the social justice pool. As a consumer, I want quality goods at the best possible price. Our budget, not our politics makes these decisions.
Lady Gaga’s most recent Superbowl Halftime show was one of the most popular in years. The reason? Unlike far too many shows previously, Gaga’s performance was apolitical. As a result, sales soared.
Even for the social conscience motivated consumer, Matlins argument should be concerning. If brands choose to divulge their social and political views, fine but demanding they stand and be counted is imposing ideological homogeneity. What brands stand for might vary, but the idea that privately owned or publicly traded companies are required to “believe” in anything is ludicrous, not to mention dangerous.
As for me, I’ll be standing over here, rejecting the overly politicized life in all its forms and fashions.
[Featured Image: By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons]
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