Fox News and 25 More Companies That Faced Public Backlash
Tucker Carlson speaks on stage during the 2018 Politicon at the Los Angeles Convention Center on October 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Polk / Getty Images for Politicon)
No matter how great the product or how strong the marketing is, no company is immune to public backlash. For decades, consumers have used their wallets to make a statement, from political to personal.
Find Out: Does It Work When Consumers Boycott Companies?
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And in the age of social media, negative news travels faster than ever. Here are 26 examples of companies outraged over actions ranging from launching thoughtless advertising campaigns to manufacturing hazardous chemicals. Find out what these companies did that sparked public outcry.
Last updated: December 23, 2020
Pictured: Tucker Carlson speaks on stage during the 2018 Politicon at the Los Angeles Convention Center on October 21, 2018.
Tucker Carlson, host of "Tucker Carlson Tonight," poses for pictures in a Fox News Channel studio in New York. Tucker Carlson, New York, USA - March 02, 2017.
Fox News faces advertisers boycott
Host Tucker Carlson said on his June 8th edition of his Fox News show "Tucker Carlson Tonight" of the growing anti-racism protests across the country: "These may be a lot of things, we are living in this moment, but it definitely is not black lives and remember when they come for you and at this rate they will. “Advertisers like T-Mobile, Papa Johns and Disney were quick to retire their advertisements.
In December 2018, Carlson and his show saw a similar wave of boycotts by advertisers after he said immigrants made the United States "poorer, dirtier and more divided".
Other Fox News shows have faced similar boycotts following inflammatory comments from hosts. Jeanine Pirro criticized Rep. Ilhan Omar for wearing a hijab and Laura Ingraham poked fun at the survivor of the parkland shootout, David Hogg. Both shows ("Justice with Judge Jeanine Pirro" and "The Ingraham Angle") have lost advertisers.
These regular boycotts of advertisers have not had a lasting impact on the Fox News network or its hosts as the network makes more money from cable subscribers than from ad sales, according to Bloomberg, and ad spending has actually increased, according to PolitiFact.
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New York Amazon headquarters protest
New Yorkers say no to Amazon's headquarters
Online retailer Amazon caused public, political and corporate outrage in 2018 when it announced it would move its headquarters to two facilities - one in New York City and one in Northern Virginia.
New Yorkers were particularly open, arguing that a smaller city could be better served by the jobs it would provide. They also didn't want their tax money to go to Amazon. In February 2019, the company abandoned its plan to move to New York City, but rented office space in Manhattan in December.
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Citizens United's attorney is filing a lawsuit against Apple over battery issues
Apple admits planned failure of the iPhone battery
In 2017, iPhone maker Apple admitted that it was deliberately slowing down the batteries of its older phones, leading to loud outcry from the public and a sense of betrayal. Apple then published a letter of apology attempting to explain the reasons for protecting the phones. A discounted price of $ 29 instead of $ 49 was then offered to replace these batteries by the end of 2018.
Pictured: Citizens United's attorney is suing Apple over battery problems
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Burger King accused of Brazilian deforestation practices
In 2017, an environmental group, Mighty Earth, released a report titled "The Ultimate Mystery Meat," linking the fast food chain Burger King to significant deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest. The group also participated in a number of protests at Burger King locations.
In response, Burger King pledged to end ties with the meat producers responsible for deforestation by 2030. However, Union of Concerned Scientists advocacy scientists claimed the schedule was not fast enough.
Chick-Fil-A LGBTQ protest
Chick-fil-A president charged with anti-LGBTQ sentiment and donations
The president of the family-run fast food company Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, first sparked controversy when he voiced his support for "biblical families," which means he was against a gay, on a Christian radio show -Marriage is. He also doubled his testimony after public outcry.
Equality Matters, an LGBTQ advocacy group, reported that the Cathy family donated millions to anti-gay organizations in 2010. Although people began boycotting the restaurant, the public backlash has not changed Cathy's stance or affected the business.
New Cola and Coca-Cola Classic
Coca-Cola disappoints customers with new Cola
In 1985, the Coca-Cola Co. changed the formula of their popular Coke lemonade and launched a new version with the aptly named "New Coke". Customers hated it and sales were soaring.
One customer, Gay Mullins, a 57-year-old medical researcher, was so outraged that he spent thousands of dollars to form an activist group that forced the company to revert to the old formula. Coca-Cola restored Coca-Cola Classic just 79 days after introducing the new, failed formula.
Dow Chemical Vietnam War protest in Wisconsin
Protesters call out Dow Chemical about napalm in Vietnam War
When it became known during the Vietnam War in 1967 that the US military was using napalm - a chemical compound known as "liquid fire" because it burned and mutilated human skin - protests broke out against its maker, Dow Chemical.
Dow didn't stop taking napalm right away. In fact, it launched a public relations campaign to explain that it's not as harmful as critics have said. However, the company stopped production by 1969. The protesters protested against the company long afterwards.
Pictured: Dow Chemical's napalm protest in Wisconsin during the Vietnam War
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Soul Cycle Store Front
SoulCycle and Equinox under attack over owner's policy
In August 2019, protesters boycotted SoulCycle, the trendy fitness clubs where people ride spinbikes to pop music, and the Equinox gyms that own SoulCycle. This is in response to news that its owner, property developer Stephen Ross, has announced that it will be running a fundraiser for President Donald Trump's re-election. Tickets cost $ 100,000 and up.
Ross issued a statement saying he was "an outspoken advocate of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability". His apology did not appease his critics, including some celebrities who claim to be leaving SoulCycle and Equinox.
Protest against Facebook data breach in Brussels, Belgium, following data breach by Cambridge Analytica
Facebook is a repeat offender of data breaches
In April 2019, a cybersecurity firm called UpGuard reported that third-party apps connected to Facebook had exposed millions of Facebook users' data to the internet. This came after Facebook announced in 2018 that British analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which was discontinued by the Trump administration in 2016, was also gaining access to private Facebook user data. Facebook's net worth then dropped $ 37 billion.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized, but the company failed to restore consumer confidence. The Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook $ 5 billion. Several investigations into these data breaches are ongoing in the United States and Europe.
Pictured: Protest against Facebook data breach in Brussels, Belgium, following data breach by Cambridge Analytica
Gillette razor and shaving cream brand
Gillette teases some while adopting toxic masculinity
Shaving company Gillette took a risk in early 2019 by launching a new commercial dealing with topical issues like toxic masculinity, the #MeToo movement, and sexual harassment. It even updated its old slogan "The best a man can get" to "The best men can be".
The commercial went viral for better and for worse. Along with the praise, it received angry public outcry from private and public figures who felt they were emasculating men. Despite an initial loss of sales, Gillette has stuck with its updated message.
Google AI Duplex Assistant
Google under attack for an assistant based on human artificial intelligence
In 2018, Google launched Google Duplex, a new artificial intelligence (AI) -based assistant that was so convincingly human that the test subjects didn't know they were talking to a robot.
Tech ethicists and consumers protested that this was unfair to ignorant participants. In response to the outrage, Google changed course, stating that they would tell people that they were dealing with an AI while using the service.
Grape workers strike out of Delano, California
Grape workers demand better conditions
In 1965 Filipino-American grape workers struck in Delano, California, to protest low wages and poor working conditions. They asked the famous United Farm Workers union leader Cesar Chavez for assistance.
He urged the public to boycott table grapes and went so far that he ultimately put his life in danger with a 25-day hunger strike. Five years later the protests were successful, and the table grape growers signed the first union agreements with their workers.
Pictured: Grape workers on strike from Delano, California
Gravity Payments Salary Controversy
Gravity Payments recognize that no good deed goes unpunished
In 2015, Seattle credit card company owner Gravity Payments tried to do the right thing from its employees. Dan Price cut his own million dollar salary to provide his employees with a guaranteed minimum salary of $ 70,000.
It sparked a storm of problems: First, customers fled who feared a rate hike or who viewed it as a political statement. Then some employees quit, claiming that increases were no longer based on merit. Third, his brother, a co-founder, filed a lawsuit against him.
However, the advertising attracted new customers. And Price said he believed the company would get through the tough times once cash flow improved.
H&M is called out for racist advertising
In January 2018, the clothing company H&M surprised and insulted many customers by posing an African-American child in a sweatshirt that read "Coolest monkey in the jungle". Customers made the company aware of the racist pairing. The company hired a diversity leader and publicly apologized, but it did not calm customers' anger.
Heineken beer brand
Heineken accused of premeditated racism to improve views
In 2018, a Heineken ad for a new light beer also insulted viewers because of racist undertones. The advertising slogan shows a beer that is pushed past dark-skinned customers into a bar until it reaches the hands of a noticeably light-skinned woman. The slogan “Lighter is better” appears on the screen.
Chance the rapper accused the company of deliberately displaying racism in order to get more views, which Heineken denied. The company apologized for the ad and pulled it out of the air.
Influencer taking photos on the smartphone
Instagram tries to sell users' photos to advertisers
In 2012, the photo-sharing website Instagram outraged users when they learned of the new Terms of Service, which allowed private companies to pay for the use of photos of individuals in their advertising. After customers threatened to delete the service, Instagram stepped back, saying they would instead take the time to reconfigure their advertising terms and will make this transparent to customers.
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Ivanka Trump Fashion Line
President Trump's Rude Comments Tank Ivanka Trump's clothing line
In October 2016, Shannon Coulter and Sue Atencio launched a nonprofit website called #GrabYourWallet after Access Hollywood revealed President Trump, who said derogatory things about grasping women's genitals.
They encouraged other outraged people to boycott companies affiliated with the Trump family, particularly Ivanka Trump's clothing line. In 2018, Ivanka announced that her clothing brand was going under, and Coulter believed the website might have a role.
Nestle has violated the World Health Organization's code for the marketing of breast milk substitutes
Nestle accused of undermining breastfeeding in developing countries
In the 1970s, social activists protested Nestle for their strategic attempts to undermine breastfeeding in developing countries so that Nestle could sell more products there. Nestle distributed leaflets that activists claim had malnourished women fear that their lack of food would harm their babies.
Because baby formula is expensive, some women in these countries have also diluted the formula to extend its lifespan, resulting in malnourished babies. Nestle made statements that it supports the World Health Organization's policy to exclusively breastfeed a baby for the first six months. However, critics claim it has not changed its practices to this day.
Pictured: Nestle's advertisement for baby milk powder substitutes
Protest of the Nestle water bottling plant during the drought
Nestle Increases Water Bottling During California Drought
Nestle caused renewed outrage in 2016 when California suffered a major drought for several years. Nestle was allowed to bottle 36 gallons of water from the San Bernardino National Forest, which environmental experts viewed as an expired permit. In the meantime, residents had to reduce their water consumption.
Nestle's permit was updated, but people weren't happy. Its chairman and former CEO, Peter Brabeck, was of no avail when in a live interview he questioned the United Nations' stance that water is a human right. Brabeck claimed his comments were taken out of context.
Netflix 13 Reasons Why Katherine Langford
Netflix interferes with graphic suicide scene
When Netflix launched a controversial new series for teenagers called "13 Reasons Why" about a teenage girl's suicide, they claimed to open a dialogue on a harsh, often hidden subject. However, some suicide prevention groups and parents felt that the show glorified suicide and encouraged other children to consider it an option.
People asked Netflix to remove the graphics scene in which the protagonist dies by suicide. Two years later, in July 2019, Netflix removed the scene.
Netflix Stranger Things Busy
Netflix called for excessive displays of smoking
Netflix caused further excitement in June 2019 when the nonprofit advocacy group Truth Initiative, which aims to curb tobacco use, called on the network for its excessive depiction of smoking on children's shows. The Truth Initiative named such popular shows as "Stranger Things" and "Modern Family". Netflix said it was better to move forward with content that is aimed at young audiences.
Nike shoe company
Patriotic shoe design by Nike Nixes
Nike received public calls for boycotts and allegations of being unpatriotic when it ripped off a Betsy Ross shoe design with an American flag just before July 4, 2019. The company did so at the urging of its spokesman, NFL player Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick is famous for kneeling down during the national anthem to protest the police treatment of African Americans. He and others found the flag offensive because of its association with slavery.
Anita Bryant of the Florida Citrus Commission
Gay rights activists boycott Florida orange juice
In 1977, gay rights activists celebrated a first victory when Dade County, Florida passed an ordinance banning discrimination against gays and lesbians at work and in the home. Former beauty pageant queen and singer Anita Bryant campaigned for the law to be repealed, claiming it was an affront to traditional families - and the Florida Citrus Commission backed her.
Both local and national activists called for a boycott of Florida orange juice. Unfortunately, the cancellation was successful. But in 1979, Bryant was fired from the Citrus Commission. In 1998, Dade County passed a new ordinance to protect homosexual rights, and expanded protection to include gender identity and expression in 2014.
Pictured: Anita Bryant of the Florida Citrus Commission
Tesla Model X at Auto Shanghai 2019 in China
Tesla is cutting prices and increasing outrage in China
Electric car company Tesla, owned by the often controversial manufacturer Elon Musk, has been known to cause trouble. Although the company cut prices on its cars to the delight of many customers, it sparked public outrage in China when it cut prices on its S and X models by thousands of dollars overnight in March 2019. Owners who had already bought the car were furious that they had paid more and that they now owned a car with an instantly reduced value.
Roger Arnold has been charged with the cyanide-laced Tylenol murders
1982 Tylenol Murders Trace Radical Change in Packaging
In 1982, five people mysteriously died, not long after using the over-the-counter pain reliever Tylenol. Police announced that the victims had died of cyanide poisoning and were believed to have been injected into the capsules. The bottles were closed again and placed back on the shelves. A national panic erupted in which Tylenol was asked to do something about its packaging. Tylenol's market share fell.
Johnson & Johnson, which owned Tylenol, quickly took on responsibility and worked with the US Food and Drug Administration to develop "tamper-evident packaging" that would become the gold standard by 1989. The US Congress even passed the "Tylenol Act" to manufacture products tampering with a federal offense.
Pictured: Roger Arnold was charged (and released) in the cyanide-laced Tylenol murders
Kevin Plank, Under Armor CEO
Under Armor CEO fuels political controversy
Apparel company Under Armor faced consumer backlash after its CEO Kevin Plank praised President Trump in 2017, calling him "a real asset to the country." Anti-Trump consumers took this as the company's endorsement of Trump and called for a boycott.
Several well-known athletes, including ballerina Misty Copeland and basketball player Stephen Curry, publicly disagreed with the statements. The company soon released a statement indicating that it disagreed with some of Trump's guidelines: "We are engaged in politics, not politics."
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Fox News and 25 other companies facing public setbacks
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