My wife, Nancy, and I have decided to forego purchasing future Coca-Cola products due to their bitter political aftertaste following the company’s decision to go full-bore woke in assailing new Georgia requirements that all legal voters be required to identify themselves.
And we’re apparently not alone on being offended regarding a toxic corporate trend which is also turning millions of other resentful former customers away from buying their merchandise and market messaging.
A recent ad campaign launched by Consumers' Research, an educational nonprofit dedicated to consumer information, specifically calls out Coca-Cola, American Airlines and Nike for putting boardroom political narratives ahead of broader consumer sensibilities.
The ads will air on cable across the U.S., as well as in local markets where the companies are headquartered.
Each of the three $3 billion companies have recently issued statements against Republican-led balloting legislation in several states, most particularly Georgia and Texas.
Atlanta’s Coca-Cola-based CEO James Quincey told CNBC host Sara Eisen that the Georgia law was ''unacceptable,'' proclaiming: ''We are disappointed in the outcome of the Georgia voting legislation.''
Having previously endorsed the Democrat-proposed H.R.1/S-1 bill that would centralize all control over voting procedures in Washington, D.C., Quincy added, ''Our focus is now on supporting federal legislation that protects voting access and addresses voter suppression across the country.''
Consumers' Research Executive Director Will Hild charged that "Coca-Cola and Nike have both been exploiting foreign, potentially forced, labor in China while American workers suffer." He also said that "American Airlines shrunk legroom for passengers and laid off thousands of employees during the COVID pandemic while receiving billions in taxpayer bailouts."
Hild added: "It is time these corporate giants were called to task. We are giving consumers a voice. These companies should be putting their energy and focus on serving their customers, not woke politicians."
Whereas the ad campaign's claims that Coca-Cola uses forced labor in China, the company said it respects "human rights everywhere" it operates and has "strict policies prohibiting forced labor" in its business and with its suppliers.
Coca-Cola told Fox Business in a written statement. "We remain open to productive conversations with groups who may have differing views."
The company also said: "We respect everyone’s right to raise their concerns and express their views, but we also believe the best way to make progress now is for us all to come together to listen, respectfully share concerns and collaborate on a path forward."
Although American Airlines didn’t respond to the ad, it directed Fox Business toward its original statement regarding Texas' S-7 and H.B. 6 voter bills, which extend early voting hours, require specific voter ID, prohibit voting clerks from sending absentee ballot applications to voters who did not request them, and ban drive-thru voting — defending the latter as a popular alternative voting method during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"As a Texas-based business, we must stand up for the rights of our team members and customers who call Texas home, and honor the sacrifices made by generations of Americans to protect and expand the right to vote," American Airlines said in an April 1 statement. "Voting is the hallmark of our democracy, and is the foundation of our great country."
Nike had signed an October letter from the Human Rights Campaign opposing Republican legislation in a number of red states banning transgender athletes from participating in women's sports.
Coke, American Airlines and Nike certainly weren’t the only mega-corporations to jump on the woke political posturing bandwagon.
In what must have originated in a Zoom conference from hell, several other similarly inclined CEOs joined the anti-Georgia voting legislation virtue signaling parade.
According to Atlanta-headquartered Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, the new voting law ''is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.''
Not explained is why Delta then expects and requires Black people, along with all other racial and ethnic passengers on its aircraft, to supply proof of identity on all flights — including passports for international access eligibility.
Not to be left out, American Express CEO Steve Squeri said that his company ''stands against any efforts to suppress voting.''
''BlackRock is concerned about efforts that could limit the ballot,'' said CEO Larry Fink. Cisco’s CEO, Chuck Robbins, chimed in, saying that ''Governments should be working to make it easier to vote, not harder.''
Joe Biden, the nation’s CEO, piled on. Referring to the Georgia legislation as ''sick,'' he claimed: "Instead of celebrating the rights of all Georgians to vote or winning campaigns on the merits of their ideas, Republicans in the state instead rushed through an un-American law to deny people the right to vote."
None of them apparently — including President Biden — ever bothered to have their legal departments check the facts.
For example, although Georgia’s new law tries to reassure all citizens about ballot integrity, it also expands opportunities to vote beyond what existed even two years ago, and it is far more permissive than prevailing laws in many blue states.
Unlike Biden’s beloved Delaware, Georgia offers no-excuse absentee ballots.
New Yorkers eligible for absentee ballots must be ill or disabled; a primary caregiver; or someone in jail awaiting grand jury action or sentencing.
In addition, Georgia provides for more days of early voting than in New York.
And although the Georgia law places limits on mail-in drop boxes, it also makes them a permanent part of the voting system. Before COVID, drop boxes were illegal there.
So perhaps, like me, you are scratching your head in bewilderment why some CEOs publicly inserted themselves into attacks on legislative changes to Georgia’s voting ballot access and integrity laws which they obviously hadn’t read.
Why would such captains of capitalism be so eager to unnecessarily anger the conservative half of their politically divided customer base and knowingly hurt their stockholder profits through market losses?
Do they imagine that taking a knee to the groins of millions of conservatives in suppressing legitimate state voter integrity protections won’t be noticed?
If so, it’s time for them to wake up to painful consequences of purchasing punch-back power.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and the graduate space architecture program. His latest of 10 books, "What Makes Humans Truly Exceptional," (2021) is available on Amazon along with all others. Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.
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