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Walmart Took a Political Stance – Should You?

Up until very recently, it has been taboo for any company to take on a political stance. 

The veil around every piece of content has been ‘make sure it’s politically neutral’. Businesses were so scared of polarizing issues that they kept out of conversations that directly affected their industry. However, due to the recent political climate newer companies have taken an opposite approach and some corporations have been following suit.

In the last few years, we have seen larger companies step out of ‘political Switzerland’ and speak up on isolating issues. And not just speak up, but take steps to put their money where their mouth is. 

This doesn’t come without consequences. 

There was a reason companies historically have stayed tight-lipped; the second you voice an opinion, you lose customers. This will be true no matter what side you take because you can’t please everyone in your audience. But every company has their line of what just can’t be ignored anymore.

Following in Dick’s Sporting Good’s wake, Walmart took a stance and made corporate policy changes surrounding gun regulations in the wake of the El Paso mass shooting. After publicly stating these new limitations, the hashtag #boycottwalmart immediately started trending over twitter.  

The overall message from opposers every time a company takes a political stance is the same: 

“[insert company] should stick to what they know – why do they have to bring politics into it?” 
 

Many companies are not letting the idea of losing a few customers stop them from getting involved in the issues affecting their communities. Large and small companies alike are getting into the game and being unapologetic about what they support in the political realm.

Nike

Nike hired and worked with exiled NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in wake of his public protest of police brutality towards African Americans. In doing this, they showed support in the Black Lives Matter movement and supported Kaepernick’s peaceful protest strategies. Because of this, the company received large amounts of flack from Black Lives Matter opposers. This flack peaked at individuals posting videos of burning their Nike shoes in protest. However, that same partnership won Nike a 2019 Creative Arts Emmy for ‘Outstanding Commercial.

Patagonia taking a political stance for environmental protection

Patagonia

Patagonia is a rare example of a large company that has always been outspoken. The business has been backing politics surrounding sustainability and environmental protection for decades.

The outdoor retail company spent time and ad spend raising awareness of the controversy surrounding the protection of Escalante and Bears Ears National Monument. When the current political administration passed new regulations weakened the protection of the area, Patagonia was among the loudest protesters.

Most recently, Patagonia put a huge amount of money where their mouth is. Patagonia donated 100% of their new corporate 10 million dollar tax cut to a wildlife preservation fund.

Secret 

Secret, a deodorant company owned by Procter & Gamble, purchased 9000 tickets to women’s soccer games.

This move was in reaction to the historic lack of support to female athletes and the female sports industry at large – hot topic made hotter when US Women’s National Team won the world cup without gender pay equality.

Secret created this promotion strategy to stimulate community involvement in professional women’s sports and have a stake in the conversation relating to equal pay in sports regardless of gender.
 
This promotion resulted in these professional women’s soccer teams mentioning Secret in ticket promotions and the company has gained the attention of women’s professional sports supporters across the nation.

So – If you’re ready to speak out, consider a few things: 

Be fully informed
Understand the intricacies behind the issue you want to speak on because an uninformed opinion does more harm than good. It also minimizes the chances of needing to backtrack on some of your statements later on.

Understand the opinions of your core audience
We are not saying this should control the entirety of your voice, and chances are you and your core audience share a similar political stance. (Or else, why would they be your core market?) But if you choose a stance that is incongruent to the values of your core audience, this tactic will prove counterproductive. Choose to back a cause that is either connected to your product or mission statement.

Most importantly – what are you going to do about it?
There is no point bringing up an issue without discussing solutions, so find a creative way to get involved in the fix. Reach out to legislatures. Discuss how your company and audience affected by the issue at hand. Put your money or resources behind the cause. If you are going to add your company’s pull to a cause, make sure you have a good reason to speak up.

Are you ready to find creating ways to use your company voice? Reach out to the Dowitcher team!

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