Monday, January 9, 2017

Meryl Streep's boxoffice draw should suffer after remarks!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
Broad or Segmented Marketing
by Steve Fair

     Most business leaders who mass market a good or service to the public at large avoid controversy like the plaque.  They understand the goal of a business is to maximize profits and not the change the world.  They never talk politics or religion and do everything possible to not offend any potential customer. 
     There are generally two ways to go to market: (1) appeal to a broad customer base, who are not necessarily loyal or (2) appeal to a more segmented customer base, which is intensely loyal.  Most marketers choose the broad approach.
     Consumer product companies fear a boycott will not just damage their bottom line, but will permanently damage their brand.  In the early 1990s, Nike was having their shoes produced in third world countries using child labor.  When word got it, it hurt the company’s bottom line, but it also changed the way Nike went to market.  They not only changed where they made their product, but became activists to change their image.  Proctor and Gamble has spent millions to combat the rumor their man in the moon logo is a nod to the church of Satan.  The rumor has been around for twenty years and P&G leaders have went on daytime talk shows to deny the accusations and to urge consumers to not boycott their huge line-up of products in the soap aisle.    
     Some companies take a stand on an issue and it doesn’t appear to hurt their bottom line, even when they are boycotted.  Chick-fil-A is thriving despite CEO Dan Cathey’s very public opposition of gay marriage.  Oklahoma’s Hobby Lobby is still profitable despite the Green families’ refusal to provide certain forms of birth control to their employees and taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court.  In both of those cases, the leaders of those companies understood the risks involved in their taking a stand, but did it anyway out of religious conviction. 
     Meryl Streep took a stand on Sunday night at the Golden Globes.  The four time Academy Award winner said during her speech accepting the lifetime achievement award that Hollywood, foreigners and the press belong to the most vilified segments in American society.  Streep attacked President-elect Donald Trump and denounced him as a bully who disrespected and humiliated others.  Streep went over her allotted time, but they didn’t pull the plug because she was delivering the message for the vast majority of the Hollywood elite.  If Streep’s remarks were meant to re-position her brand from a mass to a niche(small/loyal) market, she may have been successful. Three observations:
     First, Streep has a right to her opinion.  Just because someone is a public figure doesn’t mean they give up that right. Streep has a constitutionally protected right to offend a significant amount of the movie going public-at least half of America’s voters- if she wants..  Those offended people pay the overpriced ticket prices and concessions to watch her movies and to keep her up in the manner in which she has become accustomed.    Unlike Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby, Streep’s stand doesn’t appear to be based on a deep rooted conviction, but rather on her disappointment with who won the election.  Taking a public stand has consequences and it remains to be seen if Streep will reap reward or retribution as a result of her remarks.   
     Second, people can and should vote with their dollars.  A boycott of Streep’s movies is being organized.  Brayden King of Kellogg’s Management & Organizations department did a study on boycotts and found that most boycotts are ineffective because organizers fail to get enough dedicated participants to boycott long enough to make a significant impact.  Streep is counting on the public having a short memory.  If she suffered a loss of income or damage to her reputation by taking a controversial stand, her candor would likely be tempered.    If those who bankrolled her movies looked at Streep as toxic and unprofitable, she might rethink her political commentary.    
     Third, Hollywood is fantasy-land.  Most people in the entertainment industry are liberal thinkers.  They live privileged lives and are out of touch with the average person.  When they talk about what is wrong in America, they are filtering it through the prism of swimming pools, movie stars, Champaign and caviar.    
     The fundamental reason Donald Trump won in traditional Democrat states was because America is unemployed and underemployed.  It’s about jobs!  Trump’s insulting bombastic style turns off most everybody, but the average American is willing to overlook it if he can make America great again.  As a rule of thumb, watch what Trump does- not what he says.

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