Years ago, when pro basketball icon and Nike spokesman Michael Jordan was asked why he did not take public political stances, he supposedly answered, “Because Republicans buy sneakers, too.”
Well, apparently they eat cereal, as well, as Kellogg’s has learned.
The food giant announced last week that it is closing the doors to 39 of its distribution centers across the country as it deals with the effects of a significant deterioration in the sales of its cereals.
As you may remember, the Kellogg Company made a high-profile decision in November to stop advertising on popular conservative news website Breitbart.com, saying that it is company policy to refrain from advertising on sites that are not “aligned with our values.”
Immediately, the folks at Breitbart organized a social media-based campaign to see Kellogg’s products boycotted. The #DumpKelloggs online petition has reportedly been signed by well over 400,000 people.
According to West Michigan’s Fox 17, Kellogg’s dismissed the idea that the boycott has played a role in the company’s current woes, saying there was no “discernible” effect on sales from the effort. CEO John Bryant indicated that while it is difficult to measure just what effect boycotts like the one organized by Breitbart may have, he could not point to any evidence that the boycott has impacted sales.
Reportedly, domestic sales of Kellogg’s cereals were “flat” in the last quarter of 2016, and sales of their Morning Foods unit, as a whole, were down. The company is saying that sales of Kellogg’s cereals in 2017 are expected to be no better than flat, and could drop by about one percent.
While Bryant is free to play down the effects of the boycott, Kellogg’s present troubles highlight a distinct problem for companies, celebrities, and anyone else who directly depends on the consuming public to succeed financially: If you assume an obvious political position in one direction or another, you run the very real risk of alienating at least one-half of the entire country.
Had Kellogg’s more quietly ended its advertising relationship with Breitbart and not publicly taken a swipe at the site’s values (and, by extension, those of its readers), the company may not have found itself in quite the jam it does right now.
All things considered, here’s what can be said: Kellogg’s decision to cease advertising on Breitbart in a way that insulted the “values” of roughly half of the entire United States…clearly did not help the company. That much is certain.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large