A conservative group launches an advertising campaign Tuesday to fight back what they see as “lively capitalism” and is spending more than $ 1 million on ads targeting the CEOs of Coke, American Airlines and Nike.
The ads are harshly critical of CEOs on a number of issues ranging from child obesity to allegations of forced labor in China. Organizers say the campaign, run by conservative group Consumers’ Research, aims to change how corporate boards think about the economic and political costs of engaging in flashpoint issues like voting rights.
“We are increasingly seeing companies losing sight of the ball,” said William Hild, executive director of Consumers’ Research. “Our focus is always on the consumer. And that is exactly what these companies should be, but we are seeing increasingly that they are working to find favor with bright politicians instead of focusing on serving their consumers. “
The dark money group claims not to disclose who is funding the campaign and respects donors’ privacy. According to Consumers’ Research, the ads will appear on CNBC, Fox Business and local channels in the cities where the companies are headquartered. The campaign will also have an online component.
The ads contain an ominous video of the CEOS and are shown like opposition candidates in a political campaign. They are aimed specifically at the company’s CEOs. The ads criticize American Airlines CEO Doug Parker for his high pay at the time of layoffs and tax breaks for the industry. They target James Quincey, CEO of Coca-Cola, for obesity in America. And they criticize Nike CEO John Donohoe for allegations of forced labor in China.
When asked to comment on the new campaign, American Airlines referred CNBC to its April statement regarding its involvement in the Texas suffrage battle. “As a Texas-based company, we must stand up for the rights of our team members and customers who call Texas at home and honor the sacrifices that generations of Americans have made to protect and expand the right to vote.”
Coca Cola and Nike did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Deciding whether or not to weigh political issues is a difficult decision for American CEOs, who generally prefer to avoid fights that could alienate a large segment of their customer base. In a CEO poll published today, Fortune Magazine’s Alan Murray reports that executives are “deeply divided” on the matter.
Fifty percent of respondents agreed that “CEOs have and should continue to have a responsibility to speak up on important social and political issues.” Yet another 50 percent agreed with the statement that “CEOs have recently become too involved in commenting on social and political issues and have to withdraw”.
Murray writes: “More than 80% agree that” everything should be done to make it easier for every citizen to vote. “To counter this belief, however, is a strong desire to stay out of the crossfire of the partisans (and perhaps not to be called” woke up “)” by the editors of the Wall Street Journal.) “