MetLife, Enterprise and more walk back NRA relationship following boycott

After criticism on social media rose, several brand managers are cutting ties and with the NRA. Here’s how they’re communicating their stance.

Backlash on social media is an effective way to get a brand manager’s attention.

TV celebrity Kylie Jenner recently showed what damage a social media post could do to an organization—after her tweet disparaging Snapchat, Snap’s shares dropped nearly 8 percent. Aside from tumbling shares, online boycotts and criticism can also force organizations to take a stand.

Enter #BoycottNRA: After the recent Florida school shooting, hashtag participation from social media users with both big and small followings have prompted several brands to cut ties with the National Rifle Association.

Gizmodo reported:

Backlash against the NRA has intensified in the wake of the massacre in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people on February 14, 2018. And while “hashtag activism” has been criticized in the past as the lazy person’s tool, brands have been uncharacteristically responsive on social media this week as calls for boycotts have gotten significantly louder .

The Twitter hashtag #BoycottNRA is aimed at companies that offer special discounts to NRA members. FedEx, for instance, offers a 26 percent discount to business class members of the gun advocacy organization. And Symantec’s anti-malware brand Norton offers steep discounts as well, slashing its premium service from $110 per year to $48.

As the hashtag trended on Twitter and Facebook comments grew on Thursday and Friday, several organizations made official statements that they were halting discounts and stopping services offered to NRA members.

USA Today reported:

MetLife said it would stop providing discounts to NRA members for auto and home insurance. “We value all our customers but have decided to end our discount program with the NRA,” the company told USA TODAY in a statement.

Cybersecurity firm Symantec, which offered NRA discounts to its LifeLock identity theft protection service and Norton anti-virus software, told USA TODAY on Friday that it had “stopped its discount program with the National Rifle Association.”

Aside from mobilizing its PR teams, organizations taking a stand have turned to social media to spread the news.

MetLife and Symantec tweeted the statements the companies shared with reporters:

First National Bank of Omaha replied to criticism on Twitter with individual tweets that contain its statement:

When pressed for more information, however, the bank’s social media team refused to divulge more details:

Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s social media team shared its decision through individual tweet replies, as well:

Similar tweets have been sent from the Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental Twitter accounts, both owned by Enterprise, Limited.

Even those companies who don’t have direct partnerships with the NRA have made statements distancing themselves from the beleaguered organization.

The New York Times reported:

Visa, in a statement, said that it had no contractual or financial relationship with the N.R.A.

“Visa co-branded cards do not represent an endorsement by Visa of that cause or organization,” the company said. “We strive to make our payment services available to all people in all places, for uses consistent with local, national, and international laws.”

The moves to cut ties with the NRA following growing backlash isn’t surprising, considering a study revealed that 66 percent of consumers think organizations should take a stand on political and social issues. Fifty-eight percent of consumers are receptive to organizations doing so through social media, which is might explain many of the brand managers distancing their organizations from the NRA have turned to their social media teams for assistance.

USA Today reported:

“Banks and other companies are sensitive to being on the wrong side of a social media campaign, which can spread pretty quickly these days,” said Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan business professor who has taught classes on marketing. “They don’t want to risk having people march or boycott.”

But Gordon said a widespread movement against NRA-affiliated companies was “unlikely” because most consumers don’t change their behavior based on political issues.

The NRA did not respond to a request for comment. CEO Wayne LaPierre told the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday that “as usual the opportunists wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for gain,” adding that gun control advocates and the media “hate the NRA, they hate the Second Amendment, they hate individual freedom.”

Though Enterprise, Symantec, First Bank of Omaha and MetLife are now facing criticism from angry NRA members, other consumers are applauding the decisions.

What do you think of the way these organizations are taking a stand, PR Daily readers?

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