When Brands Take a Stance

When Brands Take a Stance

I recently saw that Kellogg’s had come under scrutiny from a conservative group due to its stance on gay marriage. Good ol’ Tony the Tiger showed up to support a gay pride event in Atlanta and, next thing you know, he starts getting the heat.

It made me think about my trips to the grocery store, when I’m scanning the aisles for my next item. What motivates my selection? I’m not super loyal to any brands, but I think it’s most likely my familiarity with a brand or how well I like the taste. Have I ever stopped to think further about the brand and what kind of stance it’s taken on social issues?

When the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act in June of last year, tons of companies, like HBO, Smirnoff, Kenneth Cole, Expedia, and Oreo, came out to show their support. I assume they all expect it’s worth the risk and they’ll receive more positive reactions than negative from their consumers. Because that’s what brands do when they take a stance — they take a risk.

One company, in particular, took a big risk by proudly voicing its opposition. You can’t forget Chick-fil-A and the backlash it received when it exclaimed that it opposed gay marriage. Some colleges even petitioned to have stores removed from their campuses. But when former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee created an event on Facebook to support Chik-fil-A, over 600,000 people joined the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day group. And the restaurant experienced record-breaking sales that day.

Immigration is a similar issue that companies have come out in support of, but corporate stances on this issue aren’t covered in the press nearly as much. Huge companies, such as Microsoft, Marriott, Facebook, and Coca-Cola, have shown support for immigration reform. Will that influence you the next time you’re offered a Pepsi or Coke? Holiday Inn or Marriott?

How much does corporate stance matter to consumers? Next time you’re considering a purchase, will you think about it or just grab that pack of Oreos as you roll on by?

Laura Scharfeld