Poll: Most Americans Oppose Corporate Political and Social Campaigns

We have been discussing shareholder and consumer opposition to companies like Disney and BudLight tying their brands to social agendas and political questions. Now a Gallup survey shows that public support for these companies is continuing to fall, even among Democrats who still overall favor corporate messaging on social and political issues. Only 41 percent now approve of such corporate campaigns. However, neither public support nor sales were the driving forces behind these campaigns.

The support for these corporate campaigns has dropped another seven percentage points since the last survey. Given the political alignment of companies like Disney, it is not surprising that they receive their greatest support among Democrats who would likely change their views if companies began to adopt opposing views. Currently 62% of Democrats believe businesses should take a public stance on current events. That is down from 75% just a year ago. Only 17% of Republicans and 36% of independents favor these corporate campaigns.

Yet, even with the drop, these companies knew beforehand that roughly half of their consumer base opposed their entry into social and political messaging. Indeed, after BudLight imploded over its promotion featuring transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney, other companies boldly moved forward with their own controversial commercials including shaving company Braun, clothing company North Face, shoe company Nike, and jeans company Levi’s.

Disney, however, shows how resistant executives can be to consumer backlash. For years, Disney’s controversial movies and policies have driven away many families — and reduced profits. Now, CEO Robert Iger is saying that he wants to “quiet the noise” with the company’s fight with Florida and take a less controversial public position.

Yet, earlier this year, I wrote that Disney would ultimately have to back down in a fight that it could not win in the long run. Instead, Iger moved aggressively against the state and threatened to pull out of major projects. At the same time, the company moved ahead with controversial retakes on classic movies. Revenues at the company have continued to fall and layoffs increased. Now, Iger apparently has had enough — at least in the fight with Florida.

Indeed, some executives appear to dislike their base.  Alissa Heinerscheid, vice president of marketing for Bud Light,  appears to have cost the company billions after pledging to drop Bud Light’s “fratty reputation and embrace inclusivity.”

She certainly succeeded in changing the entire view of the brand in less than a year on the job. Heinerscheid knew that the brand image sells the beer. That image is now unpalatable for many consumers. The social value of these campaigns is lost if consumers reject beer with the branding message.

The Gallup poll again raises the question of who these companies are selling to. Like many media outlets that have written off half of the country, these campaigns are slashing the market for products in order for companies to sell political or social positions. Even many Democrats now want companies to get back to just selling their products and stay out of politics.

The legal question, again, is whether shareholders have a claim to demand an accounting from the management over such campaigns.


52 thoughts on “Poll: Most Americans Oppose Corporate Political and Social Campaigns”

  1. Duracell for Democrats. Energizer for Republicans.
    Coca Cola for Democrats. Pepsi for Republicans.

    It’s not socially healthy to have a segregated market, to have consumers, producers, and sellers siloed. The mixed blessing of a market economy is that you don’t have to know the other fella’s politics to still associate, understand, and learn from the guy at the other end of the transaction. The other guy might surprise you. It’s okay to rub elbows.

    What’s so grating about this political intrusion is the suspicion that the people who are inserting politics into the product don’t give a whit about the product or company. Like a parasite, they leach off a healthy host to satisfy their own wants and needs. They didn’t build the company. The company is there to be leveraged for political messaging.

    I hope execs expel as many of these people as possible. Get back to the mission of shareholder return attributable to selling a good product at lower cost. Leave the political activists outside to picket or let them go inside of bank, get a loan, and start their own company where the politics comes first (or close enough to it).

  2. It honestly doesn’t matter what polls show. They are willing to steal elections, kill and start wars to keep their power.

    What people don’t realize, THEY DON’T CARE about you or the law. The law only applies when all sides agree to support it’s use.

    With Trump (J6ers, True the Vote and others as well) they knowingly and willingly weaponized the legal system against their political opponents
    and against the people that would vote for their opponent.

    If they are openly willingly to call most Americans terrorists, deplorable, far right, nazi supporters, etc… they DO NOT CARE WHAT YOU THINK or what polls say.
    They will weaponize law, police, etc.. to shut you up or arrest you. They decided long ago, your voice and opinion do not matter.

    Law will not save us.

  3. They consider Blackrock etc. to be more important than individual shareholders. Follow the money.

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