- Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, MetLife, Hertz and a number of other major brands have cut ties with the National Rifle Association after gun-control activists took to social media with the hashtag #BoycottNRA to call for boycotts of the companies that provide benefits to NRA members, the Independent reports. The boycott calls came just a little over a week after 17 were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, FL.
- Other brands that have severed their relationships with the NRA include Allied Van Lines, home security company SimpliSafe, First National Bank of Omaha, Paramount Rx, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent a Car, National Car Rental, Avis Budget Group, cybersecurity company Symantec, insurance company Chubb, Starkey Hearing Technologies, auto pricing website TrueCar, Best Western, Wyndham Hotel Group and Republic Bank. Fedex maintains its partnership with the NRA.
- In a statement, the NRA called the companies’ actions to cut ties a “shameful display of political and civic cowardice” aimed at punishing its “law-abiding members” that had nothing to do with the Parkland shooting. “In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve,” the statement said.
The #BoycottNRA movement isn’t new. For years, gun-control advocates have pushed for boycotts of the corporations supporting the NRA, but the hashtag exploded after several viral tweets followed the Parkland, FL, school shooting. Survivors of the high school shooting, along with activist groups, turned up the pressure on brands that partner with the NRA and seem to have gotten results, as many have severed their relationships with the gun-rights group.
The campaign highlights the power that consumers wield on social media and how brands can be vulnerable to negative social media attention. Brands should stay on top of monitoring their social media mentions to keep tabs on consumer sentiment and to take action on something that could turn into a major brand reputation issue before it gets out of control. Staying connected on social media is also a good way for marketers to stay connected to social media savvy millennials.
Consumers often see social media as a way to hold brands accountable, and millennials especially make no qualms about calling out brands for what they see as inappropriate behavior. Fifty-six percent of millennials say they have called out brands on social media, and the age group is 40% more likely than other generations to use social media to call out brands, according to Sprout Social research. At the same time, more consumers expect brands to take a stance on social issues. Marketers just need to tread lightly when taking a position and focus on causes that make sense for their brand.
#BoycottNRA is now taking on the tech giants, including Amazon, Apple, Google and Roku, that stream NRA videos, according to a Washington Post report. Google’s YouTube has faced controversy over the past year after inappropriate and offensive content has appeared on the site and led several advertisers to pull their ads. In an effort to regain the trust of advertisers and viewers, Google announced that it will use human moderators and artificial intelligence to review and flag Google Preferred videos to ensure that the content is safe for ads.