Bud Light cans are seen in the store in Montreal, Canada on June 16, 2023. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

News and Analysis

The Left Wrote The Book On Effective Boycotts. Then Came Bud Light.


Most people would agree the far-Left in America has an incredible history of successful and effective boycotts. Is it possible, however, that we are all having some sort of fever dream? A deeper look back into the 20th century reveals some interesting facts about the Left and boycotts in the modern era. 

The Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 – 1956 has long been considered the largest and most successful boycott in modern American history. This iconic moment in American history is a fascinating encapsulation of the differences between the Left and the Right. The boycott was squarely focused against the Democrats — meaning Alabama elected only five Republicans to the United States House from 1900 to 1980. The state, run entirely by Democrats at the time, was segregating people based on skin color and then legislating accordingly. How is there a modicum of difference between the Alabama Democrats of 1955 and the Democrats of today?

The boycott was sparked by the arrest of Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955 and subsequently organized by the Montgomery Improvement Association, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Once the movement picked up speed, Dr. King was arrested for violating a 1921 statute regarding conspiracies against lawful businesses. According to The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, “Judge Carter finds him guilty of leading an illegal boycott and sentences him to pay a $500 fine plus court costs or to serve 386 days in jail.” The trial garnered national attention, and while the financial ramifications might not have been staggering, it started a national conversation around the issue, ultimately leading to a Supreme Court ruling striking down the practice of segregation on buses. The Democrats were thoroughly defeated.

Arguably, the second most successful boycott in American history was led by Cesar Chavez and the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) against Schenley Industries, a leader in the California grape business. At first glance, the boycott seemed to be motivated by better wages for farm workers, but the specifics are more interesting. A lifelong opponent of illegal immigration, Cesar Chavez was convinced that the economic woes of the farm workers would be virtually non-existent if not for the presence of illegal, cheap labor. The boycott targeted Schenley due to its national recognition and its involvement in various other businesses. In December 1965, the NFWA voted to boycott Schenley, which not only meant that all NFWA members were to strike during the 1966 grape harvest, but also that they would boycott and picket against Schenley and their products nationwide.

Initially, Schenley was unmoved by the strike and decided to utilize the 1942 “Bracero Program,” an agreement between Mexico designed to supply the U.S. with cheap, temporary labor from non-citizens. The harvest was completed, but by April of 1966, Schenley experienced a significant sales drop and earned horrible stain on their reputation. This forced Schenley to sign a labor agreement with the NFWA, and conditions for farm workers began to improve. A few years later, Chavez testified in front of Congress in reference to the Schenley boycott and he stated: “We gave the I.N.S. and Border Patrol stacks and stacks of information. They did not pull workers from the struck fields … this is why we are forced to boycott: we have no enforcement by the Border Patrol.”

Today, is it the Left or the Right in this country that stands in staunch opposition to Border Patrol and restrictions on immigration?

In contrast to the above examples, let’s review some of the Left’s most widely known boycotts in the modern era. In 2011 the President of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, expressed his personal views in support of traditional marriage and the family unit. This caused widespread backlash in the mainstream media and the LGBT (no extra letters and symbols yet) community. Calls for a boycott echoed from every leftist politician, media personality, and activist, but what were the results? Approximately eight months into the boycott, Chick-fil-A sales skyrocketed by 12%, from around $4.05 billion to $4.6 billion. The calls for boycotts continued and the pressure campaigns in the media were ceaseless. The effect? Chick-fil-A has managed to increase its sales by roughly half a billion dollars or more each year since the boycott. Is there a more popular fast-food restaurant in America?

Another Left-organized boycott involved a multi-year campaign against The Salvation Army that began in 2019. The charitable organization was accused of both racism and bigotry against the LGBTQI (gaining some letters now) community. One thing worth pointing out: The Salvation Army was one of the leading organizations championing the 1964 Civil Rights Act and has publicly disavowed any race-based rhetoric numerous times. Nevertheless, they have made company statements in keeping with the traditional understandings of marriage and the family, similar to Dan Cathy. That was enough for the radical Left. They demanded people stop giving donations to the familiar, ubiquitous red kettles during the 2019 and 2020 Christmas seasons. The result? In 2020, as with the rest of the world, profits were down. But in 2021, The Salvation Army received the second most donations in the history of the 158-year-old organization. Not quite the smashing success the Left was hoping for.

Lastly, everyone remembers the vaunted Hobby Lobby Boycott of 2014. The situation occurred after Hobby Lobby was sued by an employee for failing to offer insurance coverage for birth control. This drew the ire of another special sect of the far-Left, the pro-abortion wing. Protestors were seen outside of Hobby Lobby stores across the nation and nearly every outlet and publication were in support of the boycott. The result? The revenue for Hobby Lobby has increased from $3.3 billion in 2014 to $7.7 billion in 2022. They just had the most successful year in company history.

Now, fast-forward to present time, and what could end up being the two most devastating boycotts in American history are occurring simultaneously.

Target Corporation gained national attention in mid-May for constructing “Pride” displays at its stores across the nation. The prominence of the displays, along with the outrageous nature of some of the products — “tuck friendly” bathing suits — seemed to push people on the Right to their limits. Calls for a national boycott began to circulate among conservatives and the results have been astonishing. Since May 2023, the Target Corporation market cap has fallen by $15.7 billion dollars. 

A successful boycott, no doubt, but it pales in comparison to the Anheuser-Busch apocalypse.

On April 1, 2023, social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney created an advertisement video for Bud Light, which featured a can of Bud Light with Mulvaney’s image on it. The Right in America has made it perfectly clear in recent years that they will no longer accept the infusion of sexual values into everyday products; but Bud Light decided to find out. The world has rarely witnessed the level of resolve this video provoked from customers. And the results have been Biblical.

As of June 2, 2023, Anheuser-Busch had lost approximately $27 billion dollars in stock prices, multiple executives were placed on leave, and calls for the CEO to resign continue to intensify. Once ranked in the top ten of the nation’s favorite beers for decades, Bud Light has now fallen to the 14th spot after three months of the boycott.

The last four months have shown conservatives they possess a power they did not know they had. 

The Right should take heart. The sleeping giant is waking up.

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