Marketers and advertisers are beginning to react to multiple backlashes against “woke” product promotions in recent months.
- Advertisers are closely monitoring the aftermaths of recent marketing dustups and failures with Bud Light, Miller Lite, Adidas, and Target, resulting in several multibillion-dollar stock-valuation losses, Digiday reports.
- Bud Light has reportedly seen a 23% year-over-year sales decline and is beginning to buy back expiring stock of its products from store shelves that have gone unsold.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers are facing a similar backlash after the team invited the Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence drag group for an event on their field, drawing acrimony from Catholic fans and resulting in a public boycott called by Bishop Robert Barron.
- Chick-fil-A is currently facing social-media backlash after the company’s public diversity, equity, and inclusion statement was posted online.
- The popular Christian television show The Chosen has faced social-media backlash after it was discovered that crew members were promoting pride flags on the film’s set.
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis continues to lead an “anti-woke” campaign against the Disney Corporation’s promotion of LGBTQ+ content in children’s programming.
Why It’s Important
It remains unclear what the direction of companies will be in the aftermath of backlashes against DEI and LGBTQ+ content. Thursday, June 1, marks the first day of Pride Month, with most corporations preparing to change their social-media banners to support LGBTQ+ pride across the country amid Pride Parades and public events. It is expected that conservatives and Christians will enact further boycotts against corporations that promote these events or values.
This pressure has placed advertisers in a difficult position. They face active political pressure from progressive and conservative groups to take affirmative stances affirming or opposing DEI and LGBTQ+ causes. This will likely cause other corporations to avoid making public statements.
Companies with an interest in promoting one side will likely see an uptake in business from ideological supporters and firm backlash from opponents. This bi-partisan hostility will continue well through the 2024 presidential election season, Digiday notes.
“It doesn’t take much for marketers to start to feel fear. Maybe they’ll stay more quiet now. They might not want to rock the boat either way, so they’ll stay more in the middle of the road of things,” says The&Partnership CCO Hannah Fishman.
“Advertisers are absolutely watching the backlash, and it will impact how they think about their advertising. While working on the client side of the industry, I witnessed the brutal handwringing that comes with earned media. On the one hand, you are expected to participate in big social events, like Pride month, that are important to customers and employees. And you’re expected to drive engagement, so you have to push the edges in order to stand out,” says Little Hands Of Stone CCO Michael Boychuk.