June 6, 2023 - 5:00pm

Conservative activists have recently gone on the war path against woke corporations. In just the past few weeks, they’ve called for boycotts of Bud Light, Nike, Ford, Target, North Face, Chick-fil-A and the LA Dodgers. But are the boycotts working?  

When Bud Light announced that it was partnering with the transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney back in April, it seemed like conservatives had finally had enough. Calls to boycott the beer quickly multiplied and Bud Light’s sales began falling. 

Other brands have been targeted for similar reasons. Nike also partnered with Mulvaney. Ford ran a “Very Gay Raptor” commercial. Target sold children’s books and clothes featuring trans-friendly slogans. North Face ran a “Summer of Pride” commercial. Chick-Fil-A hired a VP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. And the LA Dodgers invited an anti-Christian group to join the team’s annual “Pride Night”.

One way to gauge the scale of these boycotts is by using Google search interest. As the chart below indicates, only the Bud Light and Target boycotts have really gained momentum. None of the others is associated with a spike in search interest. 

Two boycotts have gained mass appeal, but have they actually hurt the companies’ bottom lines? The answer is emphatically yes — as the chart below shows:

Since 6 April (the date corresponding to the first spike in search interest for “boycott bud light”) Anheuser-Busch’s stock price has fallen by a massive 18%, while Target’s has fallen by an even greater 21%. Over the course of only two months, these companies have lost around a fifth of their value. 

Another indication of the Target boycott’s success is that the company has withdrawn some of the offending merchandise from its stores and website, citing “volatile circumstances”. On the other hand, neither Target nor Anheuser-Busch have apologised for the decisions that originally prompted the boycotts. Indeed, they now find themselves in a catch-22: if they do apologise, liberals might boycott them for throwing LGBT people under the bus. 

What’s more, early signs suggest that other companies are dialling down their activism in response to the recent backlash. As various Twitter users have noted, fewer large corporations seem to have changed their logos for Pride Month this year — and among those that did, several switched them back after a couple of days. This evidence is somewhat anecdotal, but the timing makes sense.

It’s too early to say that the peak of woke corporate activism has passed. Yet after several years on the back foot, conservatives now know what it feels like to teach pandering corporations a lesson. And thanks to new leadership at Twitter, their boycotts are less likely to be thwarted by censors, so many more can be expected in the future.

Noah Carl is an independent researcher and writer.