We've been writing about the politicizing of everything for years now, as have others. Corporate America's half-baked frenzy over the new Georgia election's law represents the latest example of how left-wing pressure, fear, and ignorance pushes companies and brands into taking sides and signaling alleged virtue to certain elements of society, while alienating vast segments of consumers. Major League Baseball embarrassed itself over the issue, as did Delta Airlines. Which look is worse? Rushing headlong into a Biden-endorsed boycott based on a law you care and know little about – or working closely with lawmakers to craft a final product that you believe is acceptable, only to knife them in the back when the mob decides your efforts weren't good enough?
The CEO of Coca-Cola spoke out against the new law, which was Woke. Then the company appeared to back away from the political spotlight, telling a news outlet that Americans should come together and listen respectfully to different viewpoints in order to "find common ground." Better. Call this Diet Woke, if you will. I prefer Woke Zero. So do most Americans, it turns out. We highlighted a recent public opinion survey that indicated most of the country was cool to the idea of corporations wading into controversial political and cultural disputes:
“64% of Americans — including a majority of @MLB fans, @Delta Air Lines customers, and@CocaCola consumers — told the researchers they are less likely to support companies and organizations that insert themselves into political issues and debates.” - SurveyMonkey/DW poll ...— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 7, 2021
Some critics scoffed that this was a Daily Wire-commissioned poll that couldn't be trusted. Will they also reject a new survey from NPR, PBS and Marist that also shows a sizable majority rejecting the politicization of corporate America?
Do you support or oppose American companies using their public role, position, or events to influence political, cultural, or social change?— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) April 15, 2021
Oppose 57%@maristpoll/@NPR/@NewsHour, Adults, 4/7-13https://t.co/pCcCsYWagR
More than a 20-point margin. This is what a modern-day "silent majority" looks like. Companies are extremely concerned about crossing the roughly one-third of overwhelmingly "progressive" consumers (a significant number of whom are actively hostile to big business and should not be mistaken for allies), and have made the calculation – explicitly or by panicked omission – that they have little to fear from angering or putting off everyone else. Perhaps this is framed as a smart business decision because leftists are likely to be more organized and relentless in their punishment of a company that won't do their bidding, and rising generations of consumers are expected to fall more into this camp. But if Righties get more organized, and bottom lines start getting impacted as even a fraction of the silent majority decides they don't want to hand their money to companies that hate them, corporate actors might start to rediscover the value of neutrality.
Nobody is arguing that corporations have no right to weigh in on such matters – well, except for leftists who have worked to limit corporate speech – but picking sides in divisive battles may not be wise, even if doing the "right" thing may feel like a temporary way for corporate leaders to get the woke brigades off their backs. A lot of Republicans are baseball fans. And a lot of Republicans drink Coke. And a lot of independents don't care for politicized companies, either. The hardcore Left insists that silence is violence, and neutrality is complicity. But legions of others do not want political fights invading every corner of their lives. In fact, when politics infects areas that people seek out for escapism – sports, entertainment, etc – they may grow to resent it. This nugget about the Oscars is fascinating:
"One recent producer of the Oscars, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential metrics, said minute-by-minute post-show ratings analysis indicated that 'vast swaths' of people turned off their televisions when celebrities started to opine on politics."— KC Johnson (@kcjohnson9) April 18, 2021
The Oscars have become overly polished and predictable. “The Oscars used to be the only time when you got to see movie stars in your living room, and very frequently it was a hoot,” Ms. Basinger, the Hollywood historian, said. “Some seemed a little drunk. Some wore weird clothes. A few had hair hanging in their face.” Increasingly, the ceremonies are less about entertainment honors and more about progressive politics, which inevitably annoys those in the audience who disagree. One recent producer of the Oscars, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential metrics, said minute-by-minute post-show ratings analysis indicated that “vast swaths” of people turned off their televisions when celebrities started to opine on politics. And there is simply awards show fatigue. There are at least 18 televised ceremonies each year, including the MTV Video Music Awards, BET Awards, Teen Choice Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, CMT Music Awards, Tony Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Kids’ Choice Awards and Independent Spirit Awards. With ratings expected to tumble for the coming telecast, ABC has been asking for $2 million for 30 seconds of advertising time, down about 13 percent from last year’s starting price.
According to a new YouGov / Yahoo News poll. As athletes and leagues embraced a new, progressive strategy aimed at amplifying messages of social justice and political advocacy, some Americans began watching more sports, but about three times as many watched less. Of those who watch sports on TV, about 11 percent said they now watch more as a result of political and social messaging. However, 34.5 percent, more than one-third, said they are watching less. Men were more likely to turn away from sports as a result of social messages; 37.6 percent of males said they had tuned in less, as opposed to 28 percent of females. Meanwhile, 13 percent of men said they watched more sports in the wake of social justice movements, as opposed to only 7 percent of women. The breakdown by political party runs as might be expected given the tenor of the national conversation around sports. About 13.7 percent of Democrats say they watched more sports in the wake of social justice movements, while 19 percent watched less. On the other hand, only about 8.6 percent of Republicans watched more sports, while 53 percent watched less once social justice messaging became prominent. Worth noting is that Independents came in somewhere in the middle, with about 8.7 percent saying they watched more sports in the social justice era, and about 38.6 percent saying they watched less.
Sports leagues are driving away scores of men, Republicans and independents. What could go wrong? Note that even Democrats break slightly in the "watch less" direction on this metric, too. I recognize that declining viewership has numerous contributing factors, and the phenomenon is far more complex than just political alienation. But it's still real:
Last season was an all time ratings low for the NBA. Until this season. Which is even worse. https://t.co/k0M64XN5vq— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) April 17, 2021
Coming into the 2020-21 season, NBA games on ABC — the league’s most important partner — were down 45% since 2011-12. On cable, it’s only slightly less damning. NBA broadcasts on TNT were down 40% and 20% on ESPN. To stick with more recent trends, the past two NBA Finals crashed to double-digit declines, with the most recent falling down 51% to an all-time record low. Last season’s NBA on ABC games fit that same category, recording the lowest average (2.95 million) on record. According to The Athletic’s Ethan Strauss, that record will break once again this season. “Eventually, it will be official: The NBA again lost viewership on its ABC games, down from last season’s all-time low,” Strauss writes. “Based on how this average drops as the season moves along (it starts off highest after the Christmas games bonanza), we can safely project that the ABC games will finish at a mark that’s lower than last season.”
Major League Baseball's commissioner – surely aware that his fan base is much less progressive-heavy and Democratic-leaning than the cartoonishly hypocritical NBA's – has apparently looked at all of this and decided that following in LeBron's woke footsteps is a winner. Good luck.
UPDATE - Home Depot is making the right call, despite the pressure:
We have a small remodel planned and I’m going to spend my money at @HomeDepot — after waiting a beat to make sure they don’t cave. But I fully support their political neutrality on this. https://t.co/vDXsddw1b8— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 20, 2021