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Why do businesses get involved with politics?

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by jrbiz, Aug 20, 2020.

  1. #1
    Folks here on DP may know that I have opinions on U.S. and some world politics and am a bit outspoken about same. However, as a sales and marketing professional, the last subject I want to come up with my prospects, customers, etc., is politics (well, maybe religion, but it is a close call as to which is worse.) This is a simple matter of statistics: any such discussion risks alienating a prospect/customer if we disagree. I really do not even want to discuss politics within my own company, because the only opinions that are changed in such discussions, are co-workers' opinions of each other.

    Anyway, that is the background for my mystification as to why a company would risk losing 40% of its prospect/customer base by delving into political issues that they don't have to? I totally understand lobbying, advertising, etc., for laws/regulations that directly impact your business, but getting involved in unrelated, raw politics does not make any sense to me. Starbucks has done this here in the U.S., and Goodyear just got into the fray and is now in the sights of Trump and his conservative supporters. Why would you risk a boycott like this to ban MAGA hats in the workplace when you do not ban BLM hats there? Never has made sense to me, no matter the politics, and I would love to get folks' opinions as to why they do this. Note this is not a discussion about any politics, whatsoever. This is about business strategy.
    SEMrush
     
    jrbiz, Aug 20, 2020 IP
    SEMrush
  2. Spoiltdiva

    Spoiltdiva Illustrious Member

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    #2
    Demographics...companies like Starbucks do their research. They know that their customer base are preppy liberals and they are going after the 40% that are die hard lefties. If you can gain the loyalty of 40% of the market, then this is a big win.
     
    Spoiltdiva, Aug 20, 2020 IP
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  3. turbotnator

    turbotnator Peon

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    #3
    It's good for profit margins. When Nike did the whole Colin Kaepernick thing their profits went up by like $3bn. That wasn't from libs buying because they liked the message, it was because loads of angry MAGA people gave them free advertising by burning their sneakers and uploading the video to Twitter.
     
    turbotnator, Aug 20, 2020 IP
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  4. jrbiz

    jrbiz Acclaimed Member

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    #4
    Fair enough when it comes to Starbucks or Nike, it may be overwhelmingly liberal people who buy mediocre coffee or sneakers at exorbitant prices. How about Twitter and Facebook? They are openly leaning left in their censorship of content. Is it the same profit-based reasoning for them?
     
    jrbiz, Aug 20, 2020 IP
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  5. Spoiltdiva

    Spoiltdiva Illustrious Member

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    #5
    Liberalism like conservatism is not unlike a religious belief. They (the Ceos/owners) have their leftist calling. Fanatical beliefs are every bit as powerful a motivator as are profits.
     
    Spoiltdiva, Aug 20, 2020 IP
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  6. JEET

    JEET Notable Member

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    #6
    @jrbiz
    When you see a lot of businesses getting involved into one-side of politics, its a given that the side these people are not supporting, its going to go.
    In case of USA, Trump might very well be on his way out.

    The businesses you mentioned, twitter and facebook, both those "assholes" have a completely different policy in my country.
    In USA, they are trying to appear liberal and open minded.
    In my country, these people facilitated riots against a minority class, by promoting content of right wingers, and not blocking hate speeches against that minority class, even after the content was reported multiple times.
    The whistle blower who broke this NEWS that they were told by the company not to remove those hate speech content, that whistle blower got fired.
    Both those "asshole" companies are openly supporting fascism in my country.

    These companies support a political side because they see profit on that side.
    No other reason, none at all.
    These companies have a lot better perception of politics than you and I do.
    They know very well who is going to be in office next, and who to support...
     
    JEET, Aug 20, 2020 IP
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  7. jrbiz

    jrbiz Acclaimed Member

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    #7
    Perhaps and you make some good points in your post, but I am not so sure how politically savvy these companies are. 30 years ago, Microsoft was the supposed savvy tech giant that could do what it wanted because of its lock on the computing business world. However, they completely misread the politics of the era and found themselves in an anti-trust action by the government that caused them to have to split up their business and could have destroyed them. I see some early signs of Twitter, Facebook, and Google heading down the same path. It starts with congressional hearings as they have just had. These companies certainly have alienated the Right and the Left never likes big businesses, anyway, so they do not seem to have a lot of friends on the Hill.

    Yes, I am coming to this same conclusion. Hard to imagine that companies as large and powerful as these social media giants are, and who can afford to hire the best, smartest business executives out there, would make such bad business decisions.
     
    jrbiz, Aug 20, 2020 IP
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  8. sarahk

    sarahk iTamer Staff

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    #8
    It's no different from celebrity endorsements.

    There comes a point where you feel obliged to use your clout for the greater good, sometimes it works in your favour, sometimes it doesn't. If you genuinely believe in the cause and you have the wealth to squander why not?

    upload_2020-8-21_11-32-44.png upload_2020-8-21_11-33-36.png
     
    sarahk, Aug 20, 2020 IP
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  9. JEET

    JEET Notable Member

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    #9
    @sarahk you asked,
    " If you genuinely believe in the cause and you have the wealth to squander why not?"

    But who will decide if the cause is "actually" good, and its not just the wealthy guy who is believing in it?
    Osama bin-ladin believed in his cause, and I heard he inherited a 13bn dollar company from his father...
    That is an extreme example.

    Here's a slightly lighter one,
    Large stock market listed corporates in my country are donating to the ruling party lavishly.
    Owners of lots of these corporates are personally affiliated with this party's non-political wing.
    In the beginning of this year, this party created riots against a minority group, killed many, and many left homeless.
    These were the corporates whose products are used by almost everyone in my country, and in a way, they funded those riots because of their personal believes and greed...
    Owners of these companies genuinely believe in the "poison" this political party vomits, and these rich ones are using their wealth to support this "poison"...
     
    JEET, Aug 20, 2020 IP
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  10. sarahk

    sarahk iTamer Staff

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    #10
    Ultimately it's the consumer who endorses the view. You start/stop buying something, using something. Unfortunately, people are also selfish and will continue to spend money even if they have an ethical issue.

    My eyes were opened wide in about '90/'91, I was living in London and British Coal announced huge mine closures with massive economic consequences for the communities that relied on the mines. The country was up in arms. The very next day the soccer fans were out in force wearing their favourite team's strip with f'ing "British Coal" all over the front. I get you might want to still go to the game even though the team you blindly support is bought and paid for by British Coal but do you have to be a walking billboard for them?

    People are lazy and think that if X endorses Y then it must be good or must be wrong and don't do the work themselves.
    You always have to look to see if the endorsement is unforced, or if the company is vying for contracts etc.
    Does their personal wealth protect them from the social or economic consequences of their endorsement?
    Do your own circumstances also protect you so you DGAF?

    @JEET's example of the lavish donations - are they out in the open? It's always a worry when they're not - and donations are always problematic because they can be twisted to look like bribes, or bribes can be twisted to look like donations.
     
    sarahk, Aug 20, 2020 IP
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  11. JEET

    JEET Notable Member

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    #11
    In my country, its open bribe system now.
    Companies are openly giving donations to ruling party, in many crores, announcing it in media, and in a few days announcing new contracts they got from ruling party! LOL

    Out here, all corporates are supposed to maintain a fund called "CSR" (corporate social responsibility), its about 2% of their profit amount.
    Congress made the rule so that corporates would use this money to develop the areas around their factories, offices, help for handicaps etc,
    and companies were doing this itself, donating to welfare NGO/NPO.

    Now, its this fund which is going to ruling party as donations, in exchange for loan wavers for corporates themselves, contracts, and bunch more benefits...
    There is an official account of the ruling party made specially to collect this fund from companies!

    Best part, people voted out Congress on false charges of corruption, and brought this other party which is ruling now!!! LOL
    Its like minds of people have been turned backwards.

    The point is, no matter what we think, its these corporates which are forming and destroying govts in countries using their money power.
    If we see lots of corporates inclining towards a certain kind of political ideology, then its almost sure that time has come for that party to rule.

    Like @jrbiz mentioned, not all will be inclined towards same party, some will support the opposite side, and will see defeat. Like that Microsoft example.

    Politics is a battle between corporates, its never about people... People are just "pons" in this game. "Sheeps" might be a better word...
     
    JEET, Aug 20, 2020 IP
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  12. jrbiz

    jrbiz Acclaimed Member

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    #12
    Well, I would argue that it is different. Empty-headed celebrities can damage their reputations as much as they would like. However, large companies are mostly publicly held and its executives have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize value for its shareholders. I do not know many shareholders who approve of squandering a company's (i.e., their) wealth. I guess that it just goes to show that becoming a high-flying executive at a large company is no guarantee of business acumen which is certainly not a newsflash.

    I guess I was foolishly hoping that this thread would be limited to a marketing discussion, but I totally understand it being moved into the Politics & Religion section.
     
    jrbiz, Aug 21, 2020 IP
  13. JEET

    JEET Notable Member

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    #13
    @jrbiz
    Talking strictly in terms of "marketing",
    corporates will follow what they think is influencing the mood of the people,
    which again is an indicator of, which party will be in the office in coming years.
    Whichever direction these 2 are pointing, corporates will tilt on that side.

    Like others also pointed, sometimes its just a marketing stunt to get publicity and boost sales or brand.

    Its like that movie marketing propaganda, where producers purposefully involve their own upcoming release in some kind of protest.
    They pay someone to start a protest against their own movie, about a month before release date.
    NEWS and media pick it up, movie makes a name for itself, and does good business.
    All protests end 1-2 days before the actual release date...
     
    JEET, Aug 21, 2020 IP
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  14. sarahk

    sarahk iTamer Staff

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    #14
    "Empty-headed celebrities" can earn huge sums and people's livelihoods depend on them too.

    There are a lot of businesses that would love to have this gross income

    upload_2020-8-22_10-16-27.png
     
    sarahk, Aug 21, 2020 IP
  15. jrbiz

    jrbiz Acclaimed Member

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    #15
    Yes, celebrities, including those you list are way overpaid for their "talents" which are basically their looks and their ability to read or sing words that others write for them. Their monetary success has almost no relationship to their brainpower. I went to school with and, in my early musical career, actually worked with a number of entertainers. They were a blast to party with, but I would not trust them with the simplest of tasks. And I certainly would not seek out their opinion on anything important as they are too empty-headed, as I stated above. Of course, there are always exceptions, but they are very, very rare, as far as I can see.
     
    jrbiz, Aug 22, 2020 IP
  16. sarahk

    sarahk iTamer Staff

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    #16
    brainpower is the only thing that should determine income?
     
    sarahk, Aug 22, 2020 IP
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  17. jrbiz

    jrbiz Acclaimed Member

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    #17
    Absolutely not. Hard work, talent, discipline, luck and more are all factors. But my point was that entertainers are not the brightest bulbs on the tree; however, at least their managers should be business savvy enough to not want to put off half their viewing market. On the other hand, perhaps, as some have suggested above, that their movies, songs, and other entertainment will do just fine with support only from their political bloc. And perhaps the axiom that "there is no bad PR" is what they believe. Of course, ask Jussie Smollett about that approach.

    But, as someone who has fought, tooth and nail, for marketshare for decades, I cannot comprehend doing anything to alienate a significant portion of the market. Heck, I do not want to alienate any prospect for any reason. Stupid to do so. No money in it.

    I would immediately fire any sales or marketing person on my teams if they were involved, in any way, in such malpractice of their professions. I might give them a warning first, but there would be no second chance on an unforced error like that.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2020
    jrbiz, Aug 22, 2020 IP
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  18. JEET

    JEET Notable Member

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    #18
    @jrbiz
    I think you are closing your eyes to a HUGE opportunity by rejecting "political alignment marketing strategy".
    There are certain pre-requirements to it, but if done properly, its a quick way to build a brand name, or take the brand name to the next level.

    Here is one more example, again from my country.
    There is a "baba" here. You know those bearded yoga type people.
    He was well known in this Yoga field, provides ayurvedic medicines too.
    This fellow got very actively involved in politics.
    Did not joined himself, but got involved in criticism of Congress govt in my country.
    Basically, the things that you mentioned in your original post, boycotting govt policies, raising protest etc etc.
    He was supporting the govt which is ruling now after Congress lost elections.

    Company of this baba is now 25th richest company in forbs list of richest companies list, issued for my country.
    He was nowhere in that list before this.

    He shouted so much against Congress govt that I think even people inside grave would have heard his blaa blaa blaa... LOL
     
    JEET, Aug 22, 2020 IP
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  19. jrbiz

    jrbiz Acclaimed Member

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    #19
    Great story. Perhaps my viewpoint is based on the fact that most of my career has been selling highly technical niche products to technical buyers. There just aren't that many prospects for me and my teams in the first place (maybe hundreds or thousands, occasionally tens of thousands.) If the "baba" you mention above captures the loyalty 10% of a very large population, it would still be millions of customers.

    That said, I still do not understand why Twitter, for example, would be so openly political. Is it because their core liberal users will use the platform more and make up for the loss of conservative users? I find that hard to believe because my feeling is that liberals will use Twitter as much as they always do and if conservatives drop out, wouldn't it be a net loss for Twitter?

    But all of the comments I am seeing on this thread, so far, indicate that is not the case and that it pays to play politics...
     
    jrbiz, Aug 22, 2020 IP
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  20. JEET

    JEET Notable Member

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    #20
    @jrbiz
    Take it from the other side. Twitter and facebook, both are playing non-liberal role here, actually fascist would be a better word for what they are doing.
    Did me and others non-fascist people go anywhere else?
    Nopes, still on twitter and facebook only...
     
    JEET, Aug 22, 2020 IP
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