November 15, 2016
A week after Donald Trump's election, the comments by Pepsi's CEO have been tough for a lot of voters to swallow. Like Grubhub founder Matt Maloney, who's on the hot seat after an employee email showing Trump supporters the door, Indri Noovi must not have been thinking about her bottom line when the soft drink mogul bashed the new president-elect. Well, she's certainly thinking about it now that #BoycottPepsi is picking up steam.
At a New York Times event last Tuesday, Noovi's emotions were obviously raw from the defeat of Pepsi's choice for the next generation: Hillary Clinton. In a sit-down with the paper's Andrew Ross Sorkin, she was asked how she was feeling about the results. "Is there a box of tissues here?" she said. To anyone who thinks like Trump, she insisted, "Forget about the Pepsi brand. How dare you talk about women that way?" she fumed. "If we don't nip this in the bud it is going to be a lethal force in society."
Sorkin, who was sympathetic to Noovi's frustration, went on to ask how others were coping. "I had to answer a lot of questions from my daughters, from our employees. They were all in mourning." In what was no doubt an exaggeration, she claimed "Our employees were all crying." While the executive staff may have been distraught, I find it hard to believe that there wasn't a single Trump supporter in a company of 263,000. Nevertheless, she went on, "And the question that they're asking, especially those who are not white, 'Are we safe?' Women are asking, 'Are we safe?' LGBT people are asking, 'Are we safe?' I never thought I would have to answer those questions." Noovi's message to the country was simple: "We should mourn." Next, she insisted, "We have to... assure everyone living in the United States that they are safe."
Well, one thing that may not be safe is Pepsi's stock. If Grubhub's experience is any indication, Pepsi is in for a bumpy ride with Wall Street. Maloney's stock dropped four points overnight after his epic "these views have no place at Grubhub" missive. As of yesterday his shares were in a freefall -- nine percent down and counting. What part of "partisan political backlash" don't these businesses understand? Have they learned nothing from Target, Lands' End, J.C. Penney, and Angie's List? This kind of liberal elitism may fly in the board rooms of America, but not in its family rooms. And as last week's election should have demonstrated, there's a strong and powerful movement in this nation who are tired of being harassed, marginalized, and threatened for what are clearly mainstream values. (Natural marriage, after all, still has the majority's support in this country!) After Trump's election, this is an emboldened group of "deplorables," and companies who are trading in intolerance do so at their peril.
Steve Tobak, one of the many who could only shake his head at Maloney's prejudice, thinks corporate America is at a crossroads for liberal activism. "It's shockingly myopic, if not downright incompetent, for the CEO of a consumer-facing company to risk insulting half his stakeholders that way... I think the board has some work to do. And given this overheated post-election climate, I'll reiterate something I say often, but apparently not often enough: If your business isn't politics, keep politics out of your business." Indri Noovi would be wise to listen.
Pepsi -- and its Tostitos, Lays, Doritos, Gatorade, and Lipton brands -- were already at odds with pro-lifers over its support of Planned Parenthood. Apart from the more than half-billion dollar haul from U.S. taxpayers, Cecile Richards's group is enjoying hefty financial backing from Pepsi (and these 37 other companies). When you're buying Pepsi, a portion of those dollars is already being wired to the bank account of the largest abortion provider in America. Now, we can add anti-American, anti-conservative rhetoric to the list. Unless Noovi and company see the light, maybe it's time to take the real Pepsi challenge and start drinking something new.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.