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Politics and Commerce intersect
On Monday, April 12, 2021 an audio company unveiled a new slogan, “Make Audio Great Again™.” I was tagged in a tweet discussing the new tagline. I decided to do some research before commenting. Here are my comments. You might be surprised.
Under the media is a transcript of the conversation if you would prefer to read the content.
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This transcript is computer generated.
Welcome to Project Bradford recorded Thursday, April 15 2021. The main thing I want to talk about this week is something that happened on Monday. I’m gonna be really kind of discreet on companies and people. The reason is is because of something called the Streisand effect. For those of you aren’t familiar, the Streisand effect is about or was named after Barbra Streisand. A few years back, she did not like a photo of her that was published, it was a little unflattering. Well, rather than just simply let it go, what she did is she reached out to the newspaper The media and said, Hey, could you please pull that back? It’s not very nice. All that stuff, at which point, the news media went, No, we’re not going to and then they publicized the fact that Barbra Streisand did that. And by doing that, it brought more attention to the bad photo. So the idea being is, as soon as you mentioned something going on, everyone’s going to look at if you want something to go away, just don’t say anything. So that’s one of the reasons I’m not mentioning names. The other reason is, there’s the phrase, there’s no such thing as bad press. I’ll let you guys decide whether or not it is that way. But that is the basis of why I’m being somewhat discreet. And also, I don’t want anyone caught up in all of this that is an unwilling participant to explain. On Monday of this week, I was tagged in a tweet with a quote about think Bradford Benn. Now the way I took that is originally to be, they were making reference to my habit, and my process of always disclaiming my comments when I was working for a major company. I would say, you know, I speak for myself, the comments I make here Don’t, don’t reflect the views of anyone else. don’t reflect my dog don’t reflect my friends don’t reflect my wife don’t reflect my enemies. They’re my comments. And that’s the way I took that comment. However, that’s not the way everyone else took it. And that person got some heat, I believe, I know, I got some heat, just because people assumed what my view was going to be on the topic. So I figured I’m going to talk a little bit about the topic itself. What happened this week, was an audio company put a new slogan on their website. The slogan was make audio great again. And they trademarked it. Now, the first thing I’m going to say, I am not commenting about the politics of this. There are conservatives, there are liberals. They’re agnostics. They’re Republicans, there are Democrats, there are communists, there are libertarians, there are pasta firings. There’s people who just don’t care about politics and everyone in between. That’s your business. I’m not going to comment on that at all. And I know that sounds kind of unexpected coming from me. But I think it’s an important distinction to make. Yes, on my company’s page advisor comm I do list my business beliefs. And the reason I do that is because that is how I run my business. I’m not saying that’s how you run yours, or anyone else has to run their business. So this company decided to follow their business beliefs. And that’s 100% there, right? Whether you agree with it or not. Now, what got kind of interesting to me is, this was a thought out idea. It wasn’t just a Hey, let’s throw up the slogan. So to me, that makes me think that either there wasn’t enough thought there was that thought or somewhere in the middle. So the reason I say it’s somewhere in the middle is the company in question started to trademark that in June of 2020.
The trademark was granted March 24 of 2021. So that means it was a long time, money was invested in this process. Now the way I found this out, I went to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. I did a quick Google quick search within it and then found all that information you’re more than welcome to if you want. So that means they actually thought about this. It wasn’t just a one off comment. And the reason I say that some Important, as I’m sure we all know, of companies where an employee has made a one off comment. You know, there have been times people have made double entendres about the term audio rack. And that person, I’m pretty sure was disciplined for that comment, because it wasn’t a very wise comment for them to make, especially on the internet. But that’s one person, not the company, this was an act by the company. And that makes the things a little different. Now, it’s 100%. In their right, they can do that. But you also can’t say that they knew it was going to be divisive. They were aware, in those nine months, I’m pretty sure of how divisive this could be. Now, that’s their right to do it. And there are other companies who have done divisive things. You know, this week, there was 150, companies that co signed a letter and put a two page ad in the Wall Street, or sorry, The New York Times and The Washington Post about voter rights, they decided to approach that top is the thought was made. The example I’ll use is Nike lost 2.2% of its market valuation, the day after the first column Kaepernick advertisement ran. But they also made that up in revenue because of the support of that advertisement. So obviously, they had thought about that. They knew there was going to be some pushback, but they decided this was what the company wanted. Now, if this company in question, who decided to use the phrase, make audio great, again, used it without thinking about that process? That’s a whole different story. And that comes down to business, and the smarts of it. You know, there are all sorts of examples in the history of audio, other industries, car companies, you know, I can go on and on about the inadvertent divisiveness that can be caused when they haven’t thought thought something through. Dove is one of the most recent offenders of that, and they’ve had to had to make some changes. And I agree with that. But I also agree, that was probably unintentional. Because as soon as it was pointed out, off they went. Now, I’m not gonna say it was unintentional. I’m not gonna say it wasn’t mean spirited, I’m just gonna say they made a decision, it wasn’t the right one. And that’s kind of what happened with this audio company. By the end of Monday, that slogan had already been taken off of the website. So that makes me think people responded, pushed back, maybe someone else got wind of the idea. And what No, no, no, that’s not a good idea. There are all sorts of ways this could have happened. But my point is, it was their right to do it. Justice, it’s my right not to do business with them.
It’s just like, it’s your right to do business with them. We each Can, can spend our money and our and our company’s money as we see fit. But that’s one of the things I want to point out, this was a company. Now, if an employee says I am not going to use Brand X, because I don’t agree with their politics, that starts to get into some interesting areas. Because the company might not agree with that. There are other times when a privately held company has its ownership group, or its owner saying things that you don’t agree with, and you decide not to specify that company. And that becomes kind of the while you’re punishing people who aren’t necessarily impacted or agree with those comments. And I understand that it’s happening right now with Publix here in Florida. It’s a slippery slope. On Twitter, I have said I’m watching Major League Baseball, even though I don’t like baseball. And the reason is, is I support them and their decision to move the all star game. There are other people who don’t like me stating that and that’s their right. I’m fine with that. There are other people who aren’t going to watch baseball because of that. And that’s fine. That’s there, right? I’m not gonna argue about the the legal ramifications and ethical morals in this piece, because that’s not the point of it. The point of it is, it’s their right to make that opinion. Just like it’s other people’s rights to respond to that opinion. Now there will be people who say, well, you’re limiting free speech, and this is canceled culture and all those things. Nope. 100% not limiting free speech. Free Speech says that the government cannot make laws prohibiting the use of speech. It does not say that there are no repercussions for your speech. And that’s what’s happening. And this is commercial speech. It’s protected under the same amendment, the First Amendment of the government can’t make laws about it. But the people, the population, the constituencies, all of these different phrases you don’t want to use, they can comment on it. It’s part of the free market economy. If you don’t like a company, you don’t have to use them. If you do like a company, you can use them. And how you decide to do that is your prerogative. I’m not going to make a comment right now about what I think of this idea. I think, overall, that the company made a mistake from a business standpoint, not from anything else, from a business standpoint, purposefully using a divisive phrase, as a as a slogan. Now, the reason I say purposely, and not just Oh, it happened accidentally, they trademarked it, they went through the process of waiting till the trademark was granted before they started using it. That’s why I say purposely,
to me, that’s a business decision. That is something that that company did not fully think through. They didn’t realize all of the ramifications. Or perhaps they didn’t realize all the ramifications, such as lost business or increased business, or this or that and decided that’s what they want to do, especially if they’re privately held company. That’s their right. And I support their right to do that doesn’t mean I agree with it. But I support their right to do that and use those phrases. The company decided that was the branding they wanted to use, including all of the history of the terms, all of the connotations with it not annotations, connotations with it, of that phrase. And that’s their decision. 100% agree. They can do that if they want. But they have to expect there won’t be repercussions. And that’s just part of marketing is just part of doing the company in question did not do anything wrong. They might have done something questionable from a business standpoint, but it is 100% within their right. Just like it’s 100% within the right of the 150 companies that co signed that letter supporting voting rights. That was their right, just like the owner of a pillow company can support conservative views. It’s their right, it doesn’t mean there won’t be repercussions. It doesn’t mean I agree with it. But I agree it’s there, right. And that’s both the good thing and bad thing that happens in a free market and a free country. You can say what you want, but there are going to be repercussions. Now, having said that, I hope this has helped you understand why I didn’t jump in and why I don’t think it’s my place to jump in. Like I said, I thought it was a bad decision. That’s all I have to say about that. But it’s their right to say that that I think is important that people sometimes are missing. And also I think one of the things that’s missing is actually listening to and talking with each other doubt. It’s, we’re all in this together. You want to make a change and you want to boycott that company. Great. You want to support that company, great. But just know that is that company’s right to do that just like it’s your your right to not support them or to support them. Too often these discussions start to become ad hominem attacks attacking the person and not the topic, and I’m staying out of that. The reason is, is what does that help? as Matt Scott and I said a couple weeks ago on the podcast, we can’t think of any time Twitter has changed someone’s mind or Facebook or Instagram, or pick your social media that you want. Now I will say there have been times some of the posts that have occurred online Then. And some of the tweets that have occurred have changed my mind about a company or person. But it has not changed my view. And that’s a harder thing to think about how much of this is about the view and how much of it is about the person that so they’re not attacking attacking a protected class. They decided this is the way they want to position themselves. That’s their right. Do I think I was smart? Nope. Do I think it was a bad business decision? Yes. You. It’s the decision they made and the business impact it has. That is the issue that people have to think about. And it is 100%. Your right to decide to use them or not use them, to watch baseball to not watch baseball, to drink Coca Cola, drink Pepsi, to avoid this fast food chain or go to that fast food chain. All of those are your money. It’s a marketing decision as much as a political decision. And that’s 100% there right. Now, I’m sure there going to be some people that disagree with me. Great, put it in the comments, drop me an email.
So that’s kind of a long winded speech to get through all of this, but I thought it was worth commenting on because it’s kind of a hot topic. And to me, it’s important to realize it’s not always the fight, want to get into now I can comment about all of the voting rights, and all of the LGBTQ issues and all of these other things. But that’s not the purpose of this. This is to say that was a business decision. Their stance 100% impacts their business. And that’s their right. I’m not saying whether it’s right or wrong. I’m just saying it’s their right. And to some degree privilege to do that. So this was a little longer than I thought a little heavier than I thought. But I think it’s important, we all take a step back every so often. And remember, people have freedom of speech, companies have freedom of speech. We have freedom of choice to do business with. But I also think that using a phrase, like make audio great again, and not thinking it was going to kick up some controversy, that short sighted and that’s one of the reasons I’m not using their name, because perhaps that’s all this was intended to do is to make their name known again. So that’s my two cents, probably three and a half. At this point. I’m not going to do a mic drop. I’m just going to cartwheel off my soapbox and wish you all Peace and good health.