Corporate America, once worried about offending customers and losing sales, now is “woke.” Woke means self-righteous awareness of alleged social or political injustice. Sometimes that injustice is real, but sometimes it’s just a contrived media narrative that stokes fear to gain viewers.
That’s according to a new book on the subject.
Now, instead of just marketing their products, many companies are pitching liberal political causes.
- Shampoo makers such as Pantene used to run commercials about shampoo. Now they’re showing ads that promote a political agenda.
- Dove soap ads in Europe mocked the Trump presidency.
- Vaseline is “fighting for equity in skincare.”
- LGBT and gender-swapping now has the support of Oreo cookies.
- Companies that sell to children are displaying the rainbow flag during June – Gay Pride Month.
- And Burger King is warning that bovine flatulence from the cows it depends on for burgers is causing climate change.
- Some companies push for a $15 minimum wage while not offering it to their own employees.
Stephen Soukup, author of “The Dictatorship of Woke Capital: How Political Correctness Captured Big Business,” said corporate America believes consumers need to be trained on how to think correctly about social issues.
“This is a continuation of a trend in American history, of an elite ruling class that believes that they know better,” he said. “And that they’re taking care of the poor, stupid American people who don’t understand what they really need and what they really want and what’s really best for them.”
After Major League Baseball yanked the All-Star game from Atlanta to punish Georgia over its new election integrity law, and then more than 120 CEOs and business leaders held a conference call to discuss punishing other states, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned corporate America to “stay out of politics.”
Poll after poll finds corporations don’t benefit from social “wokeness.”
Key findings of research
Research from PLUS Communications and GS Strategy Group reveals that consumers don’t want brands and businesses to get caught up in the partisan maelstrom. They want companies to focus on taking care of their employees—not pursuing politically-motivated social campaigns:
- Overwhelmingly, customers believe the top corporate responsibility measure is employee benefits and wages.
- Customers are tired of political correctness—81 percent agree it has gone too far.
What is the response?
Republican Sen. Rand Paul called for a conservative boycott of woke companies, saying they’re hypocrites for doing business in China, which uses Muslim slave labor and persecutes pro-democracy dissidents.
“They’re boycotting a Georgia state law, and yet they do business with China,” he said. “China’s never seen a free election. China is now putting people in jail for over a year at a time for speech violations.”
“Most companies try to please everyone. Chevy offers both the Suburban and the Volt. But no company can be on both sides of a social justice war. As Michael Jordan predicted, pleasing Democrats might mean upsetting Republicans, or vice versa. Accordingly, companies will be put to the choice of what they think is the profit-maximizing route,” wrote M. Todd Henderson in a pice for Newsweek.
Hendeson writes there are no ready alternatives. “When a company is a near-monopoly, like the NFL or Facebook, choosing sides on social issues harms consumers. It forces some customers to pay an extra price for its products—the social cost of signaling something they don’t want to convey. But as long as the company did not acquire its monopoly illegally, we tolerate bad product choices by firms.”
But still, consumers are growing tired of politics inserted into every aspect of daily life, including what soap they purchase.
“In general, people are looking to turn the temperature down and return to a time when they did not have to think about political conflict as often. They’re tuning out speeches from the president and pop culture icons alike,” says Kristen Soltis Anderson, writing for the Washington Examiner. “And while they’re more than happy for companies and industries to do work to create a cleaner, more equitable world, there’s not a lot of evidence that people want politics infused into their leisure time and consumer choices.”
“Despite what some talking heads might have you believe, our research shows that companies would do well to steer clear of politically divisive social campaigns,” says Greg Strimple, GS Strategy Group president, in the release. “Investing in employees is a critical way for companies to show customers they have placed a premium on the right priorities.”
Sociologists and consumers, however, say there’s just one way to end woke Corporate America. Stop buying their products and let them know why.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice