Published on: April 2, 2018by Kevin Coupe
This story is not about politics.
(I say this to assuage MNB readers who hate it when I veer into that lane, though I would argue that I only do so when events and business-related stories warrant. But more about that in “Your Views,” below.)
But again, this story is not about politics. It is, however, about power. More specifically about a shifting balance of power about which marketers need to be aware.
This demonstration of what essentially is consumer power came last week when Fox News host Laura Ingraham taunted 17-year-old David Hogg - a survivor of the Parkland, Florida, school massacre and a leading spokesman for the gun control movement launched in its wake - for having been rejected by four colleges and whining about it.
It is true that Hogg had been turned down by those schools; he’d mentioned it when asked by interviewers what his post-massacre life was like. Whether that qualified as “whining,” I suppose, is a matter of opinion. (I don’t think so. Hogg also got into a bunch of schools. Such is the life of a 17-year-old high school senior.)
Hogg then called on advertisers to pull their commercials from her show, and a number of companies - including Liberty Mutual Insurance, Office Depot, Nestle, Joseph A. Banks, Expedia, Hulu, Johnson & Johnson, Nutrish pet foods, TripAdvisor, Wayfair, and Jenny Craig - did.
Ingraham apologized “in the spirit of Holy Week.,” Hogg wasn’t impressed, and said so. “A bully is a bully,” he said.
The New York Times writes that “Hogg said he has grown accustomed to being criticized, often ruthlessly. But to hear a prominent television host mock his college rejections was ‘extremely frustrating,’ he said. ‘I’m not going to stoop to her level and go after her on a personal level,’ he said. ‘I’m going to go after her advertisers’.”
Forget about the politics of the situation. (That’s hard to do, I know.)
I would submit that the Eye-Opening non-political lesson from this situation is that young people are engaged, activist, and schooled in the ways of social media - they know what they want to say, and they know how to say it for maximum impact.
Companies that pick a fight with them, or choose sides against them, are venturing into unknown and dangerous territory.
BTW…according to the Times, Hogg says that he’s been rejected by University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, San Diego; University of California, Santa Barbara; and University of California, Irvine; he’s been accepted by Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; California State University, San Marcos; and Florida Atlantic University, but has not decided which school he’ll attend. Hs has a 4.1 high school GPA.
- KC's View: