Companies like Enterprise, Alamo, National, First National Bank of Omaha, Hertz, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, some hotel chains and more are distancing themselves from the National Rifle Association — and experts say we may see more of that.
Updated: March 1, 2018
America is pressuring companies to #BoycottNRA — and in some cases, it’s working.
On February 22, both First National Bank of Omaha, one of the nation’s largest privately held banks, and rental car company Enterprise, which also owns Alamo and National, announced they ended partnerships with the National Rifle Association. They were quickly joined by other companies, including Hertz, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, MetLife and a handful of other companies.
Customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA. As a result, First National Bank of Omaha will not renew its contract with the National Rifle Association to issue the NRA Visa Card.
— First National Bank (@FNBOmaha) February 22, 2018
Other companies are taking a stand in a different way. On February 28, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it would stop selling assault-style rifles and ban the sale of guns to anyone under 21. The CEO Ed Stack told “Good Morning America” the move was in response to the Parkland shooting. “When we saw what the kids were going through and the grief of the parents and the kids who were killed in Parkland, we felt we needed to do something,” he said. Walmart followed this lead, saying it would not sell guns and ammo to people under 21. And on March 5, dating app Bumble announced it would ban it’s roughly 30 million users from posting images with guns in them.”“We just want to create a community where people feel at ease, where they do not feel threatened, and we just don’t see guns fitting into that equation,” Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd told the New York Times.
And two hotel chains also recently clarified that they’re not involved with the NRA — though the reasons for this are less clear than they were with First National Bank. Wyndham Hotels — which owns Ramada, Days Inn and Super 8, among others — tweeted that it had changed its relationship with the NRA. Best Western also clarified to customers that it didn’t have a relationship with the NRA, after some on Twitter called it out for working with the NRA. Both hotels chains at one time offered discounts to NRA members.
Hello. Please know, Wyndham is no longer affiliated with the NRA.
— Wyndham Rewards (@WyndhamRewards) February 23, 2018
This comes as many Americans are pressuring companies to stop doing business with the NRA — — following the the mass school shooting in Parkland, Flor. on Valentine’s Day that took 17 lives. Many are using the trending hashtag #BoycottNRA to demand companies take action.
“Corporations are built for survival. When they feel the winds going in one direction, the corporation will go in that direction,” says Chuck Welch, the chief strategy officer at Rupture Studio and a company branding expert. “And right now, there’s a major backlash against the NRA … brands are listening.”
Why not just do nothing? In this case, “inaction is action,” says Welch — as people are calling out anyone with a previous and existing relationship with the NRA. “This is a bullseye issue right now, and as long as people keep the pressure on” we will likely see more companies drop NRA partnerships or distance themselves from the organization, he adds. And Ian Atkins, the chief finance analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com, notes that “with pressure mounting from well-known groups like Everytown for Gun Safety, it would not be surprising to see more of the NRA’s corporate partners rethink their association. Board members will have a tougher time making the case to their shareholders that aligning their brand with the NRA’s will result in net gains.” The NRA has not yet responded to Moneyish’s request for comment.
These kinds of campaigns do sometimes effect change — particularly in the short term. The #GrabYourWallet campaign, for example, which encouraged consumers to boycott brands associated with the Trump Family, led retailers to drop more than 3,600 products, Moneyish reported.
And boycotts of companies by consumers clearly impact their bottom lines — and send customers fleeing to competitors. One recent example is Uber. A study examining credit card spending by USA Today found that between the time of Susan Fowler’s blog post alleging sexual harassment at the firm and the first week in June, Uber’s share of rides dropped to 75.3% from 78.8%. During that time, Lyft saw its market share rise.
But there’s a risk to this, of course. Already NRA supporters are trying to boycott companies like Enterprise. And, as Matt Schulz, the senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, explains, cutting ties with the NRA is “risky” because “NRA members are famously loyal and the organization has shown itself as being very good at mobilizing its members, so there’s a real possibility of a significant backlash.”
Still, “at the end of the day, boardroom discussions will focus on the bottom line,” concludes Atkins. Board members will ask themselves whether aligning their brand with a high-profile organization will make it money or not. “So with the increase in mass shootings and the negative publicity that follows the NRA when these mass shootings occur, it’s not surprising to see brands wanting to untangle themselves from the NRA,” he concludes.
This story was originally published on February 23rd and has been updated to reflect more companies cutting ties with the NRA.
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