Brands are taking a stand for what they believe in – what will your brand do?

Racepoint Global

Written by: Stephanie Mendonca — Brand Designer, Racepoint Global Boston 

After 28 school shootings within the past year, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL have put their foot down and have taken American consumers along for the ride. While these students may not be old enough to vote, they have been urging Americans to ‘vote with their wallets’ and have been shaking up the corporate area for change. From those effected by the events on February 14th to gun control supporters, many have all been urging companies like United, Delta, Enterprise, National, Avis, Hertz, and MetLife to cut their partnerships and discounts to the NRA – and they did.

Since the 2017 election, consumers have been more openly supporting brands that share their political beliefs with consumer trust plummeting in recent years. Now, after the largest wave of protest by brands in the name of consumers, will this wave be a turning point for the corporate world? Will brands also be pushed to take a stand on other hot topic movements as well?

For all of the brands who have not acted promptly or taken a stand for either side is a statement in and of itself. The companies that have so far cut their ties or partnerships with the N­RA include United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Best Western, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental, Avis Rent A Car System, Budget Rent A Car System, Hertz System, MetLife, Lockton Affinity, Republic Bank, The First National Bank of Omaha, Symantec, SimpliSafe, TrueCar, Starkey Hearing Technologies, Allied Van Lines and North American Moving Services.

Bank of America had also issued a statement saying that they are “reexamining” their relationships with gun manufacturers.

“We are joining other companies in our industry to examine what we can do to help end the tragedy of mass shootings, and an immediate step we’re taking is to engage the limited number of clients we have that manufacture assault weapons for non-military use to understand what they can contribute to this shared responsibility.”

-Statement from Bank of America

However not all brands have been backing consumer’s #BoycottTheNRA tweets. FedEx released the statement below supporting gun safety and the NRA, hoping to reach a middle ground with consumers. Though they might not have reached that middle ground on social media, this tweet has had the most engagement their page has seen in over a year with 61% of their tweets retweeted and 3.7 million impressions last week.

Since the release, there has also been a rise of the #BoycottFedEx hashtag that has been used over 1,800 times throughout last week. Between their bipartisan approach and their feud with UPS over who has more NRA ties, they have not been getting many positive reactions from either side.

FedEx told Business Insider, “The NRA uses UPS and not FedEx” for their online store shipping on Tuesday, to which the NRA confirmed that it does use UPS and the US Postal Service.

UPS then responded by telling Bloomberg that while that’s true, they don’t offer special discounts to members like FedEx. Their collective statements as a brand haven’t truly given consumer trust to anyone.

Vinesse Wines has also had a very contradictory approach as the official wine club of the NRA. While they still hold that title, they have since suspended sales of NRA branded wines, which has given them heat from both sides of the aisle.

The Dallas Hyatt Regency, Omni Hotels, HotelPlanner, Sirius XM, Midway USA, NetSpend, Clearent, Life Line Screening, Vista Outdoor, Bass Pro Shops, and Cabelas have held their ground with the NRA without contradiction, which in turn has gotten them much less heat on social media and more loyalty from consumers who still support the NRA.

Three of the county’s largest gun sellers, Dick’s Sporting Goods, L.L.Bean and Walmart, have taken an entirely different approach. While consumers called for change to these brands, they did not address the NRA at all. They simply changed their firearm sale policies by raising the purchase age to 21 and will no longer sell high capacity magazines or assault-style firearms (including children’s toys). The companies delivered emotional statements on their releases and Dick’s Sporting Good’s even admitted to selling a firearm to the Parkland shooter in November of last year, though it was not the one used in the shooting last month.

This movement has been aggressive towards brands. Some have created change, others have not. And there are a few brands that the public is still waiting to see movement from – including Amazon, Apple, and Google – which will set the final tone. Though they do not offer NRA discounts, consumers are calling for the removal of their streaming NRA channel. Their action or lack thereof towards the NRA may be the final mark that changes the way companies brand in a very conflicted country.