Boycott Watch
December 20, 2005
Gay Groups May Face Backlash for Boycotting Their Own Customers

'Beware of whom you do business with' may be the mantra businesses re-adopt after the recent battle between Christian conservative organizations and gay activist groups.

Businesses that have advertised in gay publications such as 'The Advocate' have received pressure from groups including the American Family Association to stop advertising in such publications, which should not be seen as a surprise. What is surprising is the reaction by gay advocacy groups when a business stops advertising in gay publications, regardless if the pressure placed on the advertiser resulted in a cessation of advertising or not.

Businesses tend to move advertising dollars around, constantly looking for the best return on investment and to keep their ads fresh in the eyes of as many consumers as possible. Naturally, no advertiser can be in every publication at once, so moving ads in and out of publications is not uncommon and is sometimes handled by advertising agencies which buy blocks of ad space in a variety of publications, then placing their client ads using demographic and other formulas that track consumer trends.

Today, a new trend has emerged. When a company decides to pull its ads from a gay publication for whatever reason, gay activists now tend to threaten boycott against the former advertiser to get them to continue to advertise. Does that sound like coercion? You bet it does.

To make things more complicated, religious groups have respond by threatening boycotts if the ads return, as in the case of the American Family Association which is currently considering a boycott of Ford if Jaguar and Land Rover ads return in gay publications. In the past, Disney, Kraft, Proctor & Gamble, and other companies have also faced similar problems. As a result, advertisers who were initially faced with a no-win situation trying to figure out if they should advertise in gay publications or not, now wish they never advertised in gay publications in the first place.

Instead of thanking an advertiser for their business and hoping to get more of their business in the future, gay groups have gone on the offensive by threatening boycotts if a business every stops advertising, thus declaring war on their very own revenue stream - a bad business practice to say the least.

Using boycotts to obtain business was outlawed in federal labor laws which forbid unions from boycotting companies to force them to join the union. Although that law does not apply here, there are striking similarities in the strong arm tactics being used.

By constantly declaring boycotts to force companies to continue to do business with them, gay groups are marginalizing themselves and will make companies think twice before returning phone calls, let alone engaging in any form of business with any gay organization because of the threat of a probable boycott which can easily be avoided by not doing business with gay organizations in the first place.

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