When America’s biggest companies put on marketing campaigns catering to the politically-correct left, not all of their executives are on board. In fact, some of them are donating to President Donald Trump.
This fact came to a head when Stephen Ross, the majority owner of an umbrella company that owns two popular fitness brands, was revealed to be hosting a fundraiser for President Trump. Equinox, a chain of gyms, and Soul Cycle, a spin class where the instructor leads the class in meditation, are both widely popular among young liberals, who were incensed when they discovered some amount of their dues were going to President Trump.
“Heads up, gym bunnies,” Out Magazine wrote. “Yet another brand we consume in our vast, daily practice of capitalism has been implicated into the problematic views of billionaires.”
The Daily Caller has previously compiled a long, long list of times companies have bent over backwards to be inclusive, from Electronic Arts featuring female amputees fighting on the digital battlefields of World War II to Sports Illustrated showing off a “burkini” swimsuit for modest Muslim women. Discovering that an executive at one of these companies might not be fully on board is too much, however, and there were mass calls on the left to boycott Equinox and SoulCycle. (RELATED: Woke Capitalism Is Still Going Strong)
Equinox pledged to donate $5 million to charity to shake off the bad press, while SoulCycle pointed to its past support for women and LGBTQ causes, as well as partnering with the NAACP to fundraise during Black History Month.
“Neither Equinox nor SoulCycle [which is also under the umbrella company] have anything to do with the event later this week and do not support it. As is consistent with our policies, no company profits are used to fund politicians. We are committed to all our members and the communities we live in. We believe in tolerance and equality, and will always stay true to those values,” the companies said in a statement. (RELATED: The Profits Of PC: Here’s What CEOs Of Woke Companies Get Paid)
It is hardly rare for Democrats to find themselves caught between resisting President Trump and loyalty to their favorite brands, however. A study from Harvard and Tel Aviv universities found that 58 percent of America’s CEOs donate more to Republicans than Democrats, with just 18 percent openly identifying as Democrats between 2000 and 2017, according to the New York Times. The study also found that Republican CEOs “tend to be less transparent with their political funding,” an unsurprising fact given the backlash against Equinox and SoulCycle.
But there is evidence to suggest that the companies most devoted to politically correct, “pro-social” marketing are also more likely to be targets for activist boycotts, according to research from Northwestern and Pennsylvania universities. The study found that rather than acting a shield from bad press, pro-social marketing raises expectations for a company’s customers and makes them more likely to lash out. Activists are also more likely to attack pro-social companies because they are more likely to give an apology or comply with the activists’ demands, according to The Washington Post.
This research certainly bore out in the case of Equinox and SoulCycle, both of which branded themselves as progressive lifestyle companies prior to the boycott. SoulCycle regularly featured Pride-themed rides and emphasized the diversity and inclusivity of its employees and customers as a selling point.
Equinox was even more progressive. In addition to Pride Month activities, they sought out the #Resistance in no uncertain terms with its merchandise. Equinox describes its The Truth Lipstick as “made from blank newspaper pages from The Washington Post. Symbolizes the organization’s commitment to free press and journalistic integrity.”
“Designed by some of the world’s most provocative fashion forces including Off-White’s Virgil Abloh, Shayne Oliver, Y/Project and Eckhaus Latta, the products explore the real-life stories behind The Washington Post’s truth-seeking journalists, the gay civil rights pioneers of The Stonewall Inn, marathoner/activist Kathrine Switzer, and other fiercely committed people and organizations,” Equinox wrote in an announcement for the products.
But in a reality where even the most progressively-marketed companies are funded by Trump supporters, many on left don’t know where to turn.
“Does boycotting these brands result in any real change, if the alternates might be just as complicit in this system, for all we know?” Out Magazine wrote. “Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday we were boycotting Uber only to give our money to the Trump-supporting Peter Thiel-owned Lyft? Is there any ethical consumption under capitalism?”