by Emily Dalgo
Thinking about ordering up an Uber to get downtown after getting your half-caff skinny hazlenut latte at Starbucks? In the wake of #DeleteUber and #BoycottStarbucks, you might want to consider the politically dissonant messages sent by those previously unremarkable actions.
Media-marketing specialist Shannon Coulter created the hashtag #GrabYourWallet in October to encourage consumers to boycott businesses carrying presidential daughter Ivanka Trump’s clothing and accessories lines. Now that Donald Trump is in the White House, the movement has grown into a kind of watchdog platform, calling out all companies that are financially or politically tied to Trump or his family and encouraging critics of the new president to put their money where their mouths are by boycotting the entities.
Of the 69 companies that #GrabYourWallet is currently boycotting, 39 are listed as retailers that do business with the Trump family and/or sell Trump family products. Included in this camp are big-name brands like Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Sears, Wal-Mart, and Macy’s.
The site also lists 30 additional firms to consider boycotting due to their financial and/or political support of Trump or a Trump brand. Hobby Lobby, L.L. Bean, NASCAR, New Balance, QVC, Yuengling Beer, and Uber are on this roster.
Of the big-name companies we looked at on the current boycott list, all contributed more to Hillary Clinton’s campaign than to Trump’s. Though some individuals with links to the companies did not prefer Clinton: Linda Bean, the granddaughter of L.L. Bean’s founder and a part-owner and board member of the company, made a $60,000 donation to the pro-Trump Make America Great Again super PAC. (Our totals of contributions include donations from individual employees as well as, in the cases of Amazon, Sears, Wal-Mart and Macy’s, the company’s PAC.)
Most of the companies on the list are wise enough to Washington that they also spend money lobbying Congress and the federal agencies. As with campaign contributions, Amazon — which is being boycotted for selling Ivanka Trump clothing and accessories — is far in the lead, with over $9.4 million in 2015 and $11.3 million in 2016. Among Amazon’s top concerns last year were bills having to do with taxing internet sales, patent infringement, cybersecurity and measures that could affect its delivery methods.
Wal-Mart came in a close second, spending over $6.6 million in 2015 and just under $7 million in 2016. Like Amazon, the corporation is being boycotted by anti-Trump consumers due to their selling of Ivanka Trump’s line. QVC upped its lobbying totals from $80,000 in 2015 to $130,000 in 2016. The television network was hit with a boycott for being an advertiser on Celebrity Apprentice, of which Trump is an executive producer.
What’s up with #DeleteUber
Over the weekend, Uber dropped its “surge” prices during a Muslim solidarity strike led by the NYC Taxi Worker’s Alliance, which called for a one-hour, complete stop of pickups from JFK airport while two Iraqis were being detained inside. The taxi strike came in response to Trump’s executive order to ban citizens of seven predominantly-Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days, and all refugees for 120 days. While NYC taxi drivers were protesting at JFK, Uber continued to provide rides.
Twitter users responded with the hashtag #DeleteUber, after many interpreted Uber’s cheap rates as a way to profit off of Trump’s ban or to counteract the strike. Uber has since told Business Insider that it didn’t stop the surge pricing to drive more business, and that “it was not meant to break up any strike.” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick jumped into action after the company’s initial response, saying that Trump’s ban is “against everything Uber stands for” and that Uber plans to compensate its drivers for any lost earnings due to the ban. Kalanick has also announced plans to set up a $3 million legal fund for drivers affected by the executive order. Nevertheless, Uber remains on the #GrabYourWallet list because its CEO is an adviser on Trump’s economic council.
Ride-sharing rival company Lyft had a very different response to Trump’s controversial executive order. Early on Sunday, Lyft announced that it would donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is battling Trump’s ban and has reportedly raised more than $24 million in online donations since Saturday. Lyft saw more downloads than Uber for the first time, and more than doubled its daily average over the previous two weeks.
In response to Uber boycotts, conservative activists began making noise on Monday with the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks, after CEO Howard Schultz announced that the $85 billion-dollar company planned to hire 10,000 refugees worldwide over the next five years. Starbucks, which spent $610,000 lobbying in 2016 and $780,000 in 2015, contributed almost $45,800 to Democrats and $2,150 to Republican candidates in 2016.
The DJT Resistance, another website geared toward helping anti-Trump consumers boycott pro-Trump companies, features most of the same entities as #GrabYourWallet, but additionally advises protesters to boycott the New England Patriots, who will play in the Super Bowl this Sunday, because both quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick have voiced open support for Trump.
It’s unclear how much the threat or actuality of a boycott affects corporate actions or product sales. Still, bad publicity can damage company stock. While some companies have openly denounced Trump’s rhetoric or dropped Trump products in response to comments or policies made by the president, most have stayed quiet. Others have reaffirmed their support for Trump and their partnership with the Trump brand. The president, after all, has his own tools — including the mighty tweet.