Saturday, May 26, 2018

Publix's Self-Inflicted PR Disaster

Survey after survey has shown that a large majority of Americans support common sense changes to America's gun laws - even strong majorities of NRA members support universal background checks.  One lone force stands in the way of such much needed and publicly supported reforms: the NRA (which is a front for gun manufacturers) and politicians - mostly Republican - that the NRA has bought and paid for and who are willing to disregard the desires of the majority of voters.  Thus, it might not have been very wise for a grocery store chain to throw  campaign support to a vociferous NRA supporter for governor of Florida.  Yet some mental midget at Publix made that decision and a PR disaster rained down on the chain causing it to reverse course and disavow the former recipient of its monetary largess.   A piece in the Washington Post looks at this idiotic decision and its reversal.  Here are excerpts:
The supermarket chain Publix on Friday announced that it would suspend its political contributions to Adam Putnam, a Republican candidate for Florida governor, after being faced with overwhelming pressure to cut ties with him because of his fierce support for the National Rifle Association.
“We would never knowingly disappoint our customers or the communities we serve,’’ Publix said in a statement Friday. “As a result, we decided earlier this week to suspend corporate-funded political contributions as we reevaluate our giving processes.’’
The announcement came moments before “die-in” protests organized by 18-year-old gun-control activist David Hogg began at several Publix supermarkets, forcing store managers to reroute shoppers around the protesters, who lay on the floors of the aisles. 
At two Publix supermarkets in Parkland, survivors of the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shouted “USA, not NRA!” as customers navigated their shopping carts around them on the floor, according to the Associated Press.
This most recent protest came one week after a mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Southeast Texas killed 10 people, and on the same day that an Indianapolis middle school student opened fire in his classroom, injuring a student and a teacher.
The protesters were calling for an end to Publix’s support for Putnam, Florida’s agricultural commissioner, who has called himself a “proud NRA sellout.”
“A lot of people don’t support who Publix is supporting,” Haylee Shepherd, a 15-year-old sophomore at Stoneman Douglas, told the Associated Press. “It’s going to reflect on them as a brand and people shopping there.”
Publix has faced increasing backlash since the Tampa Bay Times reported that the company had given $670,000 to Putnam in the past three years. Another $147,000 was donated on top of that, including $78,000 from Carol Barnett, the daughter of Publix’s founder; $49,000 from former Publix executive M. Clayton Hollis Jr.; and $20,000 from Publix executive Hoyt Barnett, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Industry experts disagree on how Publix will be impacted by the protests and the suspension of political contributions.
Phil Lempert, who heads the website Supermarket Guru, told the Orlando Sentinel that Publix’s recognition of the protesters’ demands was unusual. “But we live in unusual times, and when we look at gun violence, all the rules are being rewritten,” he said. “I think the impact will affect their bottom line in the very short term due to the protests, but canceling all political contributions is a very smart move.”
“Publix is a cult. Employees and customers are members,” Livingston said. “Publix will probably have a positive reaction. Everyone knows they are a standup company, especially after a hurricane.”
Livingston was referencing the outpouring of gratitude customers showed Publix during Hurricane Irma last summer. The grocery chain set up hurricane landing pages on its websites, responded to customers on social media . . .  
 Backing something opposed by a majority of customers is never a wise move.  It's one thing to ignore a boycott by NRA members - or Christofascist "family values" groups since they simply do not command the loyalty of significant numbers of people in comparison.  Indeed, most companies that have been targeted by Christofascist groups have seen improved bottom lines as large numbers of consumers decide to support them because they are ignoring the Christofascists demands.  Someone at Publix obviously had their head up their ass when they decided to make these ill-advised contributions. 

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