Corporations and Cereal Killing the Campaign Trail

Aidan Brami, Financial Specialist

While many people are focused on politics in D.C., other powerful people in the U.S. are beginning to shape politics.
Large food and drink corporations are starting to take more political stances on a variety of issues, but is this truly because they believe in the cause? Or do they have alternative motives?
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, owners of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, made multiple political statements throughout the 2016 campaign period. In support of Bernie Sanders, Ben and Jerry’s released a Bernie’s Yearning ice cream flavor and also campaigned with Sanders. After Donald Trump was elected, the company sent him a letter voicing their opinions.
“We will continue to be strong advocates for racial and social justice, LGBTQ rights, gender equality, respect for religious differences, and opportunity for all. We stand with women, people of color, Muslims, migrants, refugees, the LGBTQ community, the poor, and others whose lives may be further compromised by the policies and rhetoric you espoused during your campaign,” Ben and Jerry’s said.
Ben and Jerry’s commitment to liberal political campaigning seems to be legitimately for the causes they believe in, but is this increasing their total sales?
“I think food companies should not try to shape public opinion because they are, in fact, just a food company,” political literacy club member Doug Aubertin said. “They are just doing anything they can to make more money so this is morally incorrect for them to do. No matter how much they appear to care about politics, all they are trying to do is make more money.”
While Ben and Jerry’s has not yet released their 2016 annual earnings report, their campaign could have brought them lots of new consumers.
Many other large concession corporations have recently been politically polarized including Kellogg’s, Starbucks, Yuengling Beer and Chobani Yogurt. Yuengling Beer’s Pennsylvania brewery was visited by Eric Trump during the 2016 campaign, and that day they endorsed the then presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Richard Yuengling Jr., the fifth-generation owner of this family-run business said, “Our guys are behind your father … We need him in there.”
This endorsement created a large liberal backlash at the company, and many of their progressive customers used social media to vow to never drink the beer again.
“Yuengling endorsing Trump pisses me off. It’s 1 of my favorite beers, but “people before profits’ I say, so until they change, they lost me.” -NUFF$AID (@nuffsaidNY)
Kellogg’s also was recently under a period of political criticism, as the cereal company pulled their commercials from the news organization, Breitbart, a far-right media outlet that gained recognition during Trump’s campaign. The organization then called for a boycott of the cereal brand, starting the hashtag #DumpKelloggs, which Trump supporters quickly picked up.
Unfortunately, The “United” States is currently extremely divided due to many ideological differences. Therefore, popular corporations making large presidential campaign endorsements and other statements or actions that are very politically one-sided will ultimately result in backlash from one demographic of ideology to another. If these large corporations really want to take detrimental risks and make these polarized statements and actions, then buyer beware, be prepared for a PR nightmare.