Americans are longing for the good ol’ days of capitalism, when they could buy a pair of shoes, have a pint of ice cream, or enjoy an ice-cold beer without having a blatantly political message shoved down their throats.
A new Gallup and Bentley University poll shows that nearly 60% of Americans believe businesses should keep their thoughts on controversial current political talking points to themselves, up from 52% last year.
“People largely want to be able to buy products they love [and] engage with brands they love without having to worry about politics,” Jennifer Sey, a former marketing exec at Levi’s, told Fox News Digital.
The iconic American jeans company showed Sey the door after she dared to take a public stand against school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s likely that some of the nation’s biggest brand names didn’t need a survey to tell them that folks don’t want a side of “woke” with their purchases.
Bud Light suffered a brutal backlash from its attempt to celebrate transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney’s “Days of Girlhood.”
The Bud Light Dylan Mulvaney promotion is arguably the most powerful advertising idea in history. So potent, it destroyed 40+years of accumulated brand equity for @AnheuserBusch overnight. Never underestimate the power of advertising. https://t.co/lWehfnl7UX pic.twitter.com/RDybent5pb — Brett Craig (@bac37) October 4, 2023
“Fans of the beer erupted in fury,” DailyMail.com reports. “A boycott was declared, Kid Rock used Bud Light cans as target practice, and $5 billion was wiped off the value of the brand. Two senior marketing executives have taken leave of absence amid the fiasco.”
Likewise, retail giant Target missed the bullseye with its LGBTQ+ Pride month products, which featured “tuck-friendly” women’s swimsuits and children’s clothes awash in rainbows.
One of the designs for kids proudly declared, “Satan respects pronouns.”
Target employee supports Satan and Pride and doesnt answer about the sexualization.of.kids through pride propaganda. Save the kids and #BoycottTargetpic.twitter.com/AJS65wWIHI — 5DME81 (@5dme81) May 26, 2023
“The stunning collapse of Target market cap is almost unprecedented for its own stock in 20 years, and how this happened is being scrutinized by lots of other boards right now,” Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary told Fox News back in June.
And in July, Unilever, the company that owns Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, fell by 0.53 percent, Newsweek reported, after the Vermont-based company posted on what was then Twitter, “The United States was founded on stolen Indigenous land. This Fourth of July, let’s commit to returning it.”
While Democrats are more likely to believe that businesses need to make their political stands known, across all party lines, people are less likely to support them publicly broadcasting their thoughts on current affairs than they were just a year ago.
Even among Dems, support for outspoken businesses has declined 13 points, from 75% in 2022 down to 62% in 2023.
According to Will Hild, the executive director of Consumers’ Research (CR), “You don’t want a company trying to tick off 45% of Americans, generally speaking,” he said. “In addition to that, give it another year, that may not be the case because obviously the trends are going that way.”
CR offers consumers what it calls “Woke Alerts,” Fox News Digital reports, “a subscription based texting campaign that alerts consumers when a company goes ‘woke.’ Past alerts include reports on companies like Ben and Jerry’s, North Face, Kohl’s, Target and Bud Light.”
People in America are catching on to the fact that corporations are virtue-signalling for their own benefit, not for those they claim to champion, Hild said.
“I think increasingly Americans are waking up to the cynicism that a lot of corporations who get involved in politics are actually playing at, and even people who on paper the company is taking the same position as them… they realize that the corporations are often only doing this for their own benefit,” he explained.
The latest study from Gallup and @bentleyu reveals that 41% of U.S. adults support businesses taking a public stance on current events, down from 48% last year. https://t.co/h9OOvTJhEd — GallupNews (@GallupNews) October 4, 2023
If corporations are to speak out on current issues, Americans believe they should take a stand on climate change (55%), mental health (52%), free speech (49%), and healthcare (48%), the survey reveals. The support plummets when it comes to abortion (26%), political candidates (19%), and religion (15%).
“[O]nly 37% of Americans think businesses should take a public position on LGBTQ+ issues, 45% on racial issues, 39% on gun laws, 34% on immigration policy and 27% on international conflicts,” Fox News Digital reports.
Predictably, it is the younger generation that is most likely to favor businesses that get involved with current issues.
“About half of adults aged 18 to 29 (53%) believe businesses should take a public stance, compared with 47% of those aged 30 to 44 and 35% of those aged 45 and older,” according to Gallup. “However, support for businesses to take a stance has waned across all age groups since 2022, especially among older Americans. The percentage among those aged 60 and older who believe businesses should take a public stance has declined by eight points since 2022.”