Woke Capitalism: Big Business Pushing Social Justice Issues

By Rachel Alexander Published on June 12, 2019

Some of the top brands are now pushing social justice themes as part of their products and advertising. Not content with selling their products to a wide variety of people, big businesses now try to sell something else: Social justice. They want you to get woke when you pull out your wallet.

The businesses apparently don’t care about upsetting a large portion of their customers.

Budweiser’s LGBT Beer Cups

Budweiser UK tweeted images of beer cups in colors representing the different identities in the LGBT movement. The company is sponsoring the Pride festival this month in London. Categories for the cups include genderfluid, non-binary, asexual, intersex, pan, bi and transgender.

Nike hired controversial NFL star Colin Kaepernick for its ads. He enraged many in the country by starting the practice of kneeling during the national anthem at football games. In the ad, he says not to ask “if your dreams are crazy, but if your dreams are crazy enough.” Since the controversy, Kaepernick has been unable to get any team to sign him.

Gillette recently ran two commercials on TV promoting its social justice agenda. One featured men and boys behaving badly as “toxic masculinity.” The second one featured a transgender shaving for the first time with her dad.

Airbnb and Lyft are Woke Too

Big corporations have been doing this for a while. In 1027, after Trump implemented the travel ban on people coming from countries that sponsor terrorism, Airbnb responded with an ad during the Super Bowl called “We Accept.” It featured people of different nationalities and declared, “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”

Lyft also responded. The company vowed to donate $1 million to the ACLU over four years. It issued a statement saying that Lyft “stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.”

The next year, Levi Strauss launched an anti-gun campaign. It includes asking customers not to bring guns into their stores. They are giving anti-gun organizations $1 million. After the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, Dick’s Sporting Goods removed AR-15s from its shelves. Amazon, eBay and Salesforce ban the sale of firearms.

Please Support The Stream: Equipping Christians to Think Clearly About the Political, Economic, and Moral Issues of Our Day.

Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T and an executive board member with the Boy Scouts, launched a campaign to end the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay scouts and gay scout leaders. The Boy Scouts eventually removed the ban.

Starbucks’ Extensive History

Starbucks has quite a history of social justice activism. In 2012, the company called for the legalization of same-sex marriage. In 2013, CEO Howard Schultz declared Starbucks’ U.S. stores gun-free zones. That resulted in a backlash, as gun owners took their guns into Starbucks during a “Bring Your Gun to Starbucks Day.”

In response to the Ferguson riots in 2015, Starbucks launched a “Race Together” campaign. Baristas were urged to write the phrase on the cups of nonwhite customers in order to spark dialogue. That received a lot of criticism.

Also that year, Starbucks eliminated all Christmas symbols from its cups for Christmas, issuing a plain red cup instead. After Trump instituted his travel ban in 2017, Starbucks pledged to hire 10,000 refugees over five years. This caused a backlash since it favored foreigners over Americans.

Target temporarily converted its logo into a circle with a half rainbow.

Target caused an uproar when it announced that customers could use whatever bathroom they preferred according to their gender identity. The company temporarily converted its logo into a circle with a half rainbow.


One of the companies most well-known for its political activism is Ben & Jerry’s. They list their social justice causes on their website. Causes include climate change, LGBT issues, and welcoming people from countries that promote terrorism. Ben & Jerry’s frequently puts those messages on its ice cream containers.

Just this past month, several large Hollywood companies threatened to boycott Georgia where they film if a law banning abortion after six weeks goes into effect.

Punishing Their Customers

These companies are acting contrary to the advice of free-market economist Milton Friedman. He said that a company’s sole social responsibility is to make money for its owners without breaking the law. 

Big business already has a bad reputation for being greedy capitalists.

Big business already has a bad reputation for being greedy capitalists. By taking lefty positions on political issues, they further sully their reputations. Left wing activists are putting pressure on them to champion these issues. It’s unfortunate the corporations don’t stand up to the activists.

Because ultimately, it will hurt their profits. A poll found that 76% of customers says they will stop purchasing a brand if it supports an issue that goes contrary to their beliefs. After Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling AR-15s and selling to customers under 21, its sales went down.

CEO Edward Stack admitted that the the change was “definitely a factor” in the slump. Who will be a casualty of this misguided woke activism next?


Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC. Follow The Stream at streamdotorg. Send tips to [email protected].

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Like the article? Share it with your friends! And use our social media pages to join or start the conversation! Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MeWe and Gab.

Military Photo of the Day: Leaving Pearl Harbor
Tom Sileo
More from The Stream
Connect with Us