Corporations make products for consumption. Not everything has to be a lifestyle brand.
FreeBeacon’s Sonny Bunch tweeted over the weekend a picture of a product at a store. A national brand of paper towels has a new advertising campaign for Women’s History Month (the store is a month late).
Now, the following is not specifically about this Brawny campaign. It’s small potatoes compared to the machinations of other corporations, ones that cannot be boycotted because their corporate tentacles reach everywhere.
am eternally fascinated by the marketing choices of companies whose sole
interest ought to be selling their product. I am also eternally frustrated with
large companies that make political or cultural overtures.
a company starts up with the purpose of donating every ten cents of profit to
Planned Parenthood or Wounded Warrior, that’s fine. People can choose to support
that business on their own. But the situation becomes more complicated when
larger corporations enter into this arena of political posturing.
must ask what motives exist to justify entering that arena. If we come back to
this Brawny example, we can examine several possible ideas.
Brawny determined that existing marketing was not profitable or was alienating
a portion of potential consumers. Perhaps the regular lumberjack dude irritated
the psychotic feminists and they pressured the company to alter its design.
Brawny made the decision on a corporate whim.
Brawny determined that appealing to women would result in greater profits.
three options can be boiled down to outside political pressure, internal whims,
will now address them in reverse order.
most intriguing motivation corporations have is this desire to ensure the most
profitability for their products. This makes the perceived pander deliciously
ironic. Individuals who might be inclined to pressure the company in a
situation like the first category will celebrate the pandering as an exercise
in corporate responsibility. Meanwhile, those making the decisions are really
greedy capitalists who will spout whatever nonsense is needed to sell a product
in the current political climate. If a corporation were to discover that
left-handed Mongolian Lutherans have a certain purchasing power greater than
that of the average American, I am sure that a corporation could find a way to
market a product to them. The corporation will weigh the risk of that potential
gain in contrast to the potential loss in NOT catering to the rest of society.
outrageous is the idea that corporations sit around plotting ways to create
political discord with their products and their advertising. This idea is
captured perfectly in the “Sir, this is an Arby’s” meme. An individual rants and raves about a topic,
usually an obscure policy matter, only for us to find out that the person is
ranting to an Arby’s employee. Brawny
decided to dabble in woke feminism. Sir,
you sell paper towels. The product in
question has absolutely nothing to do with the topic being promoted. It is silly to think that consumers will not
buy a product unless a corporation creates an advertising campaign on Chevron
Deference or Nuclear Proliferation. Corporations are not out anything if they
just remain silent on a plethora of issues. It is this simple idea that makes
this last point all the more convincing.
suspect that the more likely option is the existence of outside pressure to
make political points. Conservatives suck at boycotting companies and
products. If a product is good, people
don’t care enough to stop buying it. Conservatives are also faced with much harder
decisions in boycotts. There are so many
companies and products that could be boycotted yet that would take a lot of
work. Meanwhile, some leftists are far
more committed to boycotting the few products or corporations that have not
bowed to their incessant pressure. It is
easy for liberals to boycott. We also
know that liberals tend to be more organized in these matters. The existence of outside pressure eases
corporations into decisions that were risky if predicated on corporate whim.
This is what I mean: A corporation may be inclined to take a stance on a
political issue. It may be too risky for
them to do so. When groups pressure
them, it takes the burden off the corporation and they can simply affirm what
they wanted to in the first place. All
they have to do is not object to something they wanted to do anyway. Corporation A wants to make Political Point
X. Political Point X is too risky
without a good reason. Outside Group B
tells Corporation A to make Point X. Corporation A says “well, if you insist.”
Way to twist my arm there…
Paper towels are apolitical. I don’t understand why a subsidiary of Koch
Industries is in the business of making socio-political points in corporate
advertising. Each possible explanation
for pandering reveals something quite sad. Corporations think women are too
stupid to buy products unless the patriarchal corporation reminds them of their
female identity. Where would women be if
it weren’t for paper towels telling them that they can be strong while cleaning
the kitchen? Where would women be if it weren’t for Walgreens reminding them
how to spell “female?”
Too make matters worse, corporations
actually think that their political views are wanted. How will I know what
paper towels to buy unless Bounty and Brawny issue policy papers on the
international implications of Russian Arctic off-shore drilling?
Give me a break.