- The Washington Times
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

A consumer policy group launched Tuesday a seven-figure ad campaign chastising three major U.S. companies — American Airlines, Coca-Cola and Nike — for their “woke politics” and urging them to focus on customers instead.

The Consumers First Initiative, launched by Consumers’ Research, released three 30-second ads to air nationally on cable and local markets in Texas, Georgia and Oregon, the states where the companies are headquartered.

Consumers’ Research described the effort as “a major ‘name and shame’ campaign against corporations that try to distract attention from their corporate failures by playing woke politics.”

Will Hild, Consumers’ Research executive director, said the ad blitz is “giving consumers a voice.”

“American Airlines shrunk legroom for passengers and laid off thousands of employees during the COVID pandemic while receiving billions in taxpayer bailouts. Coca-Cola and Nike have both been exploiting foreign, potentially forced, labor in China while American workers suffer,” Mr. Hild said. “It is time these corporate giants were called to task.”

The ads tick off problems facing the companies and criticize their recent political activity, citing the corporate opposition to election-integrity bills in Georgia and Texas.

“American requires passengers to show ID to fly, but attacks Texas’ popular voter-ID law,” says the ad slated to air in Texas. “Why is CEO Doug Parker trying to appease the radical left?”

Each of the ads concludes with “Serve your customers, not woke politicians.”

Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey blasted the Georgia election law signed in March as “unacceptable,” but then the company appeared to back down under pressure from Republicans, saying it was “time to find common ground.”

Coca-Cola responded to the ad campaign with a statement emphasizing that it has “strict policies prohibiting forced labor” and has worked to reduce the sugar content in its products.

“We respect everyone’s right to raise their concerns and express their views, but we also believe the best way to make progress now is for us all to come together to listen, respectfully share concerns and collaborate on a path forward,” said the Coca-Cola statement. “We remain open to productive conversations with groups who may have different views.”

Founded in 1929, Consumers’ Research began as a product-testing lab that challenged deceptive corporate claims and advertising, and now concentrates on consumer education.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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