Recently, many companies have proven the adage, “Go woke, go broke,” after woke advertising campaigns led to financial consequences. Perhaps the two most prominent examples are Target and Bud Light which have destroyed a combined shareholder value of roughly $28 billion.
“These are both cases where brands have gotten in the middle of some really controversial issues,” said Timothy Calkins, associate chair of the marketing department at Northwestern Kellogg School of Management. “I think we’ll see more brands be very cautious about getting into the middle of some of these really controversial issues.”
“It was pretty clear, with Bud Light, that decisions were made by the team working on the brand, but not by more senior executives. And so, there wasn’t really a line in there. I think in hindsight a team would say, you really don’t want to get involved in that controversial an issue. The problem is it just takes your brand into a space that it doesn’t need to be, and it just creates a lot of strong feelings about something that isn’t really related to the product or its brand,” Calkins continued.
HSBC analyst Carlos Laboy recently downgraded Anheuser-Busch’s stock rating to a “hold” amid the Bud Light boycotts. “Why did its US leadership underestimate the risk of pushback given the recent experience of other firms? Is A-B hiring the best people to grow the brands and gauge risk? If Budweiser and Bud Light are iconic American ideas that have long brought consumers together, why did these marketers fail to invite new consumers without alienating the core base of the firm’s largest brand? These questions are not trivial to the crisis and say a lot about the state of A-B’s marketing culture,” Laboy said.
Target angered some consumers after selling female swimsuits that have “extra crotch coverage” and are “tuck friendly.” The American Tribune reported:
Joining fellow woke companies Bud Light, Ford, Starbucks, and Adidas, among many others, Target has now infuriated conservative customers with a female swimsuit that it promoted as being “tuck friendly” and having “extra crotch coverage.”
A Target spokesperson told Fox News Digital, “For more than a decade, Target has offered an assortment of products aimed at celebrating Pride Month. Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work. Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior. Our focus now is on moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year.”
Fox News Digital further reported on Target, which has had a history of supporting leftist causes in the culture war:
Target has a history of being at the forefront of woke identity politics. The retailer sparked a boycott in 2016 after it posted a public statement declaring that “transgender team members and guests” are permitted “to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.”
Target has had June Pride Month displays with rainbow and LGBTQ+ messaging for years, but the addition of female-style swimsuits that can be used to “tuck” male genitalia has outraged many online. The products, which can be found in a special pride section in stores, are also labeled as “Thoughtfully fit on multiple body types and gender expressions.”
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