Since 2011 with the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City, there has been a seemingly endless number of protests in the U.S. Everything from boycotts of Disney’s Star Wars, to the NFL, to now with Proctor & Gamble’s Gillette. In each case, a strong political issue backs the core of the protest. But what has been the result of the protests?
Perhaps one of the longest-run and debatable successes in modern political protests could be the Vietnam protests. Lasting for roughly 30 years, having started in 1945 and continuing into the 1970’s, the impact has affected politics and social culture for generations. Even so, the peak of the protest took over 20 years to occur from the start.
Perhaps one of the key factors in the length and eventual intensity of the protest was the fact that deaths were occurring, fueling emotions. Due in no small part to the protests, Vietnam became the first modern U.S. loss in war, and has directly influenced international politics as well as entertainment for the foreseeable future.
Occupy Wall Street
In contrast, current protests are virtually all relatively short-term events. The longest, and in some ways most prolific, recent protest may be considered the Occupy Wall Street Movement. It reached over 27 major cities, with dozens more copycats in smaller cities like Binghamton, NY.
“The Occupy Wall Street movement supports: There is NO official list of demands. Stated by the admin of Occupywallst.org. So they are just angry and shouting because they can?”
It started September 17, 2011 and ended on various days depending on location generally in January 2012. The most significant impacts were a cost of $17 million dollars to New York City taxpayers for Police overtime. More than $13 million in other cities across the nation were spent. Hundreds of arrests – at the time and after the fact took place. Dozens of lawsuits, and at least dozens of government and private business workers fired, and the birth of Black Live Matters. Not bad for a Canadian created event.
According to Michah White – co-founder of the Occupy Movement,
“The ways activists protest today, both online and in the streets, are ineffective and do not result in the transformative social change that we desire… If activism is to stay relevant, we must apply our techniques of protest, and social movement creation, to either winning wars or winning elections… Moving forward, as activists we must radically challenge the roots of our discipline and embark on a period of wild tactical experimentation oriented around capturing sovereignty.”
The Left leaning protest template
By virtually all standards, from the creators of Occupy Wall Street and detractors alike, the protest was a failure. But this failure has become the template of protests since that time. Over and over again, current protests seek to spread into every medium. This is especially true of social media. Then they fade away – sort of.
Its at this point that a divergence has come to exist. Social media protests have been adopted by the Left and Right political leanings. The tactics can be similar, but there are differences.
Left leaning protests gain far more traditional news media coverage. Black Lives Matters is a great example of this. So is the Colin Kaepernick protest. In fact the further Left the protest subject matter, the apparently greater coverage. Rewards for leaders of the movements can also be abundant.
Kaeprnick received an estimated $5 million a year deal with Nike – conservatively half of his deal in the NFL without having to work. David Hogg, who turned a tragedy into a political career, has garnered entry into Harvard after multiple rejections at various colleges. The parents of Hogg have stated they cannot afford Harvard. Hogg himself stated that he wanted his college to be a free ride,
“Wherever I go, I want to go for free, because I don’t want to put that over my parents or myself.”
The right leaning protest
The path of a protest with origins in the Right takes a very different path. Coverage, if any is garnered by traditional media, tends to be sporadic and short-lived. The plight of Diamond and Silk vs. Facebook is one such example. Most would be unaware of the censorship battle with the giant of social media if it were not for Sen. Ted Cruz forcing the story national.
The counter-protest of Kaepernick likewise gained comparatively slight attention. Though there were a slew of reaction videos and memes that dominated social media for a time. In fact, reaction to the Nike ad campaign affected sales and was at least a factor in driving the stock price to a 7-month low of $67.53/share.
Even so, current financials show Nike on track to equal or slightly exceed its earnings for 2017. The NFL, protested by many because of the disrespect of kneeling for the national anthem, didn’t fare as well. In just the 2017 season the league lost $30 million and 10% of viewership. A trend that has continued in 2018.
All of this brings us to Proctor & Gamble’s Gillette. Obviously stops along the way to address the Civil Rights Movement could have been made – but the point would not change. There is a difference how media displays public outrage. There is a difference on how long the different factions will maintain a protest. The result of the protests are significantly different based on political ideology of the protest.
The ad by Gillette has outraged many. Once again social media action has taken place,
While the immediate reaction in stock price has been negligible, that is not an indicator of what may happen. Unilever, who took a far less controversial bite of the same “toxic masculinity” apple with its Axe product line has seen sales drop. How much of that is due to the Axe ad reaction is unclear. But ultimately sales are not driven by stock prices.
There hasn’t been enough time to gauge retail sales reactions of the 60%+ male customer base for Gillette. But in the realm of the major news media, the answer is clear,
“But whatever noise has surrounded it, the fact that “We Believe” exists at all is an undeniable sign of progress… media and ad experts WIRED spoke to agreed the commercial was clever and as emotionally moving as an ad can really ever hope to be.”
Well there will certainly be more praise from the Left. The public that oppose the Gillette attack ad will be ostracized. Sales will drop for about a month or 2 (maybe even a year), but will stabilize. There will be no growth in female customers, and competitors will gain market share. Any mention of protest will be eliminated from public access due to suppression algorithms in place as admitted by Twitter, Google and Facebook.
Eventually, life will continue. But there will be many more ads attacking men, since the brunt of the emotional backlash has been released on Proctor and Gamble. Men will be categorized, ranked on a scale determined by an intelligencia that the public will never meet or influence. The value of being male will be lowered, and male characteristics will be transposed to women. This will be a feature of the 2020 presidential race for some candidates.
That’s it. A lot of bluster. A few eye-catching moments. A couple of short-term trading opportunities. Then back to the same plodding towards a newer Progressive revisioned ideal of human nature. Because Progressives are smarter than nature – or at least they control the media to make it seem so. And a sub-current of division in the nation builds just that much more.
Gillette will not be a powder keg of change. It will add powder to the keg though. At some point this will come to a conclusion. But this protest won’t be it.