Is Boycotting Effective?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by bb_baptist, Dec 26, 2001.

  1. bb_baptist

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    Companies spend billions of dollars each year to advertise their products, in hopes of attracting customers — and their money. Many of those companies have been targets of boycotts, but Peter Beckman, with AdCritic.com, believes such efforts are usually a waste of time.

    “After a week or two or after a month, people start losing interest in the boycott because either it takes too much effort or it inconvenienced them,” Beckman said.

    But Bruce Friedrich, campaign coordinator for the liberal activist group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) sees boycotts differently.

    “We have found boycotts to be very successful,” Friedrich said. “Obviously, corporations exist to maximize their bottom line, and if you’re able to adversely affect their bottom line then the corporation has to listen.”

    Bill Johnson, with the pro-family American Decency Association, admits the word “boycott” doesn’t appear in the Bible, but said the precept is there.

    “As Christians, we are called to be good stewards of our finances and I believe that’s another aspect of boycotting,” Johnson said. “We are being discerning in how and on what we are spending our money.”

    Boycott organizers say it can take years to eventually see a change.

    One way to maximize the impact on major corporations is to make sure local retailers are aware that you won’t be buying certain products or services until the corporation makes a change. Virtually everyone agrees that the most effective boycotts are those in which the goals of the boycott are clearly defined. This energizes boycotters and lets the targeted organization know exactly what is expected.

    - By Mark Cowan, FOF
     
  2. sjd

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by webmaster:
    Companies spend billions of dollars each year to advertise their products, in hopes of attracting customers — and their money. Many of those companies have been targets of boycotts, but Peter Beckman, with AdCritic.com, believes such efforts are usually a waste of time.

    “After a week or two or after a month, people start losing interest in the boycott because either it takes too much effort or it inconvenienced them,” Beckman said.


    - By Mark Cowan, FOF
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Personally, I have seen very few boycotts work effectively. In order for a boycott to have an impact there have to be 2 factors:

    1- The company is financially affected in a negative way. Without a negative impact most companies will either pay lip service to the demands of the boycotters or (worse) ignore them totally. Hence if a boycott is started and there is little or no effect on the financial bottom line, the company will ignore it.

    2- The company is publicly embarrassed by the accusations. Unfortunately, few companies have a real public conscience . They will dress up and look like there is real reform when there isn't.

    What has made PETA successful, IMHO, is that they have combined the above factors with their own public relations campaign. Although, I don't believe that PETA is successful in direcly damaging profits they do change other's opinions through advertising and pr. Changing the public's attitude does force a change in corporate behavior.

    Steve
     
  3. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Another reason PETA is successful is because they are willing to go to jail, harrass executives and employees, and do very immoral actions such as incite riots and destroy private property. This gets their faces all over the news and causes a lot of embarrasment for the companies. Of course, this probably also has to do with the part of the country in which you live. For example, about a month ago, PETA did exactly what I described above to a company here in Little Rock. The only problem is that the majority of the people here do not believe in their cause and they came off looking like complete fools and actually lost a lot of the little bit of public support that they might have had. However, I am sure that there are other more liberal parts of the country where tactics like this are effective. It just isn't here.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  4. sjd

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    Joseph-
    Agreed.

    Another tactic that PETA uses is to spy on the company that they are targeting. When they start the boycott they've got some evidence that can be distributed to the press. This makes them more credible to the company. Frankly, as a group, they are not the brightest pennies around. Locally, they wrote letters to one town (Fishkill, NY) asking them to change their name. As this area was originally settled by the Dutch and the Dutch word for "stream" is "kill", they came off as less than brilliant.

    That being said, they have managed to get a good amount of people to stop wearing fur coats. PETA essentially changed public taste particularly among a certain class (Upper Middle) who really kept the furriers in business.

    For the most part I don't agree with their message or tactics.However, I do think that there is a lesson that we can take away from what they do.

    Boycotts alone just simply don't work. You need other support.

    Steve
     
  5. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Honestly,

    I don't think boycotts are really that effective financially for the the Church since most Christians are not morally willing to do most of the things that PETA does in order to be effective. Just my opinion.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  6. bb_baptist

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    I have to disagree with you guys.

    Working in a financial environment, I know that companies analyze their sales extensively. They have break-even analysis on a monthly basis, colorful sales graphs by regions, growth graphs by market, etc.

    Any dip in sales, will be noticed by management. And if the budget calls for a 4% increase in the Twin Cities market, and actual growth is only 2% - someone must answer tough questions from top management.

    I know this. I've seen it many many times.

    An official boycott announcement along with a small financial impact (1-2% drop in sales in a market area), will make it the top issue on the next management meeting, guaranteed! The company may never acknowledge it publicly, but there is going to be a lot of action behind the scenes!

    To me, that's success in itself.
     
  7. bb_baptist

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by sjd:
    Joseph-
    Agreed.

    Another tactic that PETA uses is to spy on the company that they are targeting. When they start the boycott they've got some evidence that can be distributed to the press. This makes them more credible to the company. Frankly, as a group, they are not the brightest pennies around. Locally, they wrote letters to one town (Fishkill, NY) asking them to change their name. As this area was originally settled by the Dutch and the Dutch word for "stream" is "kill", they came off as less than brilliant.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    When we were looking for houses or lots in the area, the realtor showed us some in East Fishkill.

    We said we are not interested as i could never get used to writing "kill" every time I wrote my address. The realtor was not surprised. He heard the same comment from others as well.
     
  8. Joseph_Botwinick

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    I think a lot of it has to do with more than just the boycott itself. It has to do with the part of the country you are in. There are some communities which will embrace your cause better than others, as evidenced by the lack of support for PETA here in Arkansas (GO HOGS...BEAT THE SOONERS... :D). I think it also has something to do with the size of the company. I can tell you that most of the people who protested and called for the boycott against Stevens Incorporated here in Little Rock were not from Arkansas. Since they really had no support in the first place here in a state that is a big supporter of the 2nd ammendment and hunting, they came off losing even more support with their immoral tactics, looking like fools, and going to jail. It was not effective here in this part of the country, but perhaps it would have been in a more liberal (Communist) part of the country say like California. I also don't know many Christians who would be willing to do the things that PETA does during a boycott and therefore, except for a small blurb in the media during the Southern Baptist Convention which is almost always counteracted with public opinion polls or interviews that paints Southern Baptists as a bunch of nuts, that is about as much exposure as the boycott gets. Further, I am not so sure that this has actually worked in the boycott of Disney as I know very few Southern Baptists who actually believed in it enough to follow through with the boycott. (I do and have BTW). Most people today are still going to Disney World, going to see Disney at the movies, and renting their stuff at home. This has really turned into a symbolism over substance thing that the Convention did with the Boycott.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  9. sjd

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by webmaster:
    I have to disagree with you guys.

    Working in a financial environment, I know that companies analyze their sales extensively. They have break-even analysis on a monthly basis, colorful sales graphs by regions, growth graphs by market, etc.

    Any dip in sales, will be noticed by management. And if the budget calls for a 4% increase in the Twin Cities market, and actual growth is only 2% - someone must answer tough questions from top management.

    I know this. I've seen it many many times.

    An official boycott announcement along with a small financial impact (1-2% drop in sales in a market area), will make it the top issue on the next management meeting, guaranteed! The company may never acknowledge it publicly, but there is going to be a lot of action behind the scenes!

    To me, that's success in itself.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I think it depends on the company and on what is being boycotted. Joseph has already mentioned the lack of commitment with some Christians to fully follow through with a boycott. That combined with the fact that many companies have tentacles that are pretty spread out. Boycott Disney, then you have to boycott ABC-TV, radio and all of the myriad of businesses that Disney owns. In NYC that would include boycotting Rush Limbaugh since he is on a Disney owned station.

    I would like to propose an alternate idea. Instead of boycotting, we should be buying stock in a company like Disney. There are a number of mutual funds who invest in companies that either agree with their mission purpose or that they want to change. Buying stock gives you a voice at the annual meeting. Buy enough stock (as some of these funds do) and you might even get a seat on the Board. Much more positive AND you can work within the system to change it.

    Steve
     
  10. sjd

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by webmaster:


    When we were looking for houses or lots in the area, the realtor showed us some in East Fishkill.

    We said we are not interested as i could never get used to writing "kill" every time I wrote my address. The realtor was not surprised. He heard the same comment from others as well.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Side note: There is no Post Office for East Fishkill. There are 2 primary Post Offices that cover the Township; Stormville and Hopewell Junction. Sorry you decided not to move around here. :( . It's really a nice area.

    Steve
     
  11. bb_baptist

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    Steve, I actually live in Hopewell Junction.

    It is a beautiful area and we really really love it.
     
  12. bb_baptist

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by sjd:

    I would like to propose an alternate idea. Instead of boycotting, we should be buying stock in a company like Disney. There are a number of mutual funds who invest in companies that either agree with their mission purpose or that they want to change. Buying stock gives you a voice at the annual meeting. Buy enough stock (as some of these funds do) and you might even get a seat on the Board. Much more positive AND you can work within the system to change it.

    Steve
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Steve,

    A few thoughts:

    1.) Buying stock does not give you much voice. If you attended any annual meetings you know that. In addition, it would cost you quite a bit to travel to the annual meeting (in Disney's case in Burbank, CA).

    2.) You would have to buy at least 15-20% of the outstanding stock to get on the board. In Disney's case, that's about 300 million shares (or $6 billion dollars). Most could not easily come up with that kind of money [​IMG]

    I would suggest that NOT buying stock in such a company would be more effective.
     
  13. bb_baptist

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Joseph Botwinick:
    Further, I am not so sure that this has actually worked in the boycott of Disney as I know very few Southern Baptists who actually believed in it enough to follow through with the boycott. (I do and have BTW).

    Most people today are still going to Disney World, going to see Disney at the movies, and renting their stuff at home. This has really turned into a symbolism over substance thing that the Convention did with the Boycott.

    Joseph Botwinick
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    True. AND very sad!
     
  14. sjd

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by webmaster:


    Steve,

    A few thoughts:

    1.) Buying stock does not give you much voice. If you attended any annual meetings you know that. In addition, it would cost you quite a bit to travel to the annual meeting (in Disney's case in Burbank, CA).

    2.) You would have to buy at least 15-20% of the outstanding stock to get on the board. In Disney's case, that's about 300 million shares (or $6 billion dollars). Most could not easily come up with that kind of money [​IMG]

    I would suggest that NOT buying stock in such a company would be more effective.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    That's why some liberal groups use mutual funds. Domini and several others specifically buy to get a voice. You'd be surprised at how little it can take. Particularly if the stock is on rocky ground. Of course, also buying a company that agrees with your position would be a sign of support. That does tend to be hard in some industries. Media is a tough one!

    Steve

    BTW, glad you're in the neighborhood! There are Christians in New York!!!!
     
  15. Kathy

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    Would you gentlemen be so kind and fill me in with the specifics of the SBC boycott of Disney? Thanks!

    Kathy
    &lt;&gt;&lt;

    P.S. I'm just curious, cuz I've heard of it, but it was never explained to me.
     
  16. Joseph_Botwinick

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    The leadership asked the membership of the convention to boycott isney for several of their business decisions within the last 10 years. These would include hosting "Gay Day" at their theme park in Orlando once a year. They also own Miramax (I believe) which has been known for its less than wholesome movies that encourage gay lifestyles and ridicule Christians. They have also gone deeper into new age concept in their movies as of late. If nothing else, the travesty of a movie that they call "Shrek" is enough to boycot. It was advertized as a children's film for the whole family and gave us cursing, sexual inuendo, and vulgar off-colored jokes. Anyway, the leadership of the SBC proposed the boycot I think at the Orlando convention in 1994 (?) and the messengers from the churches voted to call for one. They got all over the news with this and made a big deal out of it and then it just basically died out from there.
    http://www.cnn.com/US/9706/18/baptists.disney/
    http://www.cnn.com/US/9706/22/disney.boycott/

    Joseph Botwinick

    [ January 06, 2002: Message edited by: Joseph Botwinick ]
     
  17. redwhitenblue

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    I don't believe for one moment boycotting is effective and I never go along with it. I personally feel boycotting is a unchristlike thing to do anyway and believe if you want to change things badly enough..pray.

    Karen
     
  18. Mike McK

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    How in the world is boycotting unchristlike?

    There are products and companies that I have boycotted.

    Does it do any good? Probably not but I agree with the Supreme Court that who I choose to support with my money constitutes a form of free speech (take THAT, Shays and Meehan!).

    While I support a company's right to support whatever cause they like, that doesn't mean I have to help them.

    On the other hand, we boycotted Ben & Jerry's for a long time and they stopped underwriting Wesley Cook's legal defense so maybe it does have an effect. Just in time, too. I was Jonesing for some Chunky Monkey.

    Mike

    http://www.cato.org

    http://www.acton.org
     
  19. Vicki

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    I am not surprised that Peter Beckman would say that boycotting does not help -- he's an ad exec,...what else would he say to the public (and his clients). His paycheck depends on the image he presents to the customer. I lean on the side that boycotting DOES help. What if everyone had that same idea that their single voice would not have an impact on consumer spending. That's the attitude that these ad execs want us to have -- that our efforts are ineffective and a waste of our time.

    And also, there are times that boycotting something is what we should do to make a stance as a Christian. For example, a nearby city was chosen for the location of a porno store (can't remember the name,..it's owned by the guy in the wheelchair that lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and is making the news every time you turn around because he is always suing for his freedom of speech, i.e., porn). Anyway,...a few local neighbors began passing out flyers to the businesses and neighbors nearby. They picketing the store and got a great deal of air time on the local news stations. After being in business for one week, the business had to shut down. The local powers that be found a loophole in the legal books that prevented them from setting up shop. If it wasn't for these "few" citizens, that shop would probably be there generating income.

    But hey,...it's just my opinion :D .

    God bless
    Vicki
     
  20. LadyEagle

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