However, Richard Levick, founder and CEO of LEVICK, a public relations firm based in Washington, D.C., said some companies will have no choice but to react because the boycotts are hitting their bottom line.
“There are organizations such as #GrabYourWallet, which is a website in which it lists some 40-plus companies that are already targeted to be boycotted, and another 30 that are being considered,” Levick said. #GrabYourWallet aggregates lists of companies that either support or sell merchandise relating to President Donald Trump and his companies.
On the other side of the political spectrum, conservative organizations boycotted the recent movie Rogue One: A Star Wars story, because it was thought to criticize Trump.
“It is a bipartisan issue, and I think it is an example of an extremely divided country,” said Levick.
Multiple other companies, including Kellogg’s, New Balance, Grubhub and Yuengling, have either been threatened with boycotts or fully boycotted for perceived leanings in either direction, Levick said. In D.C., the sandwich shop Taylor’s was the target of a boycott after its co-founder met with Trump to discuss his plans for small businesses, and it forced to company to be on damage control.
“We’ve always lived in a republic, now we’re approaching this position where everyone has ink by the barrel. Everyone with their Twitter account, or Facebook or Snapchat, or email, or website, has the power, whether or not they choose to exercise it or exercise it responsibly,” he explained.
One can look at New Balance, for example, with its opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a tariff-lowering global trade agreement, which was publicly opposed by Trump. When New Balance announced its support of the decision to withdraw from the TPP, they were “instantly subject to extraordinary vitriol by the left, but also to be embraced by the right, including the [Ku Klux] Klan, who was instantly calling them and tweeting them as the official sneaker of the Klan,” said Levick.
Levick has advice on how to prevent becoming the target of one of these boycotts.
“Who are other companies in your industry who might be attacked? Don’t whistle by the graveyard,” he explained. Large companies, like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, or Ford and Toyota, learn from each other when one of them is targeted. “You want to be checking the hashtags. How popular is an issue? If you see it starting to grow in popularity, that tells you that it’s an issue you need to consider,” Levick said. “Use your peace time wisely. There is no better way to stomp out a potential threat than by having others who are credible in the environment to be speaking on your behalf,” he added.