Hong Kong betrayed by selectively activist companies

The McNicholas Milestone welcomes Letters to the Editor and other guest articles. The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Archbishop McNicholas High School administration, faculty, or students. With any submission, The McNicholas Milestone reserves the right to edit as well as refuse publishing any material that could be libelous, in poor taste, or irrelevant to our audience. Dominic Daley is a current senior at McNicholas and was a staff reporter for The McNicholas Milestone during the 2018-2019 academic year. 

Most everybody remembers Wendy’s sassy and sarcastic Twitter marketing campaign and the onslaught of self-aware marketing that ensued. Before Wendy’s pioneered the “relatable” corporation, it was almost unheard of for a company to conduct itself as an emotive entity.

Marketing has always targeted the consumer when companies form their brand image. Apple has managed to take hold of consumers while maintaining a cold corporative image because of their brand continuity as the makers of high quality products and the products themselves acting as a status symbol. Coca Cola is renowned for its marketing, yet the brand Coca Cola has no real personality like the product does. The idea of a company posing itself as a marketable personality is relatively novel. Every company now has a Twitter, an Instagram, a Facebook, and a way to connect on almost every other social platform. Before that revolution, companies could only interact through careful and expensive advertising. This new medium between corporation and consumer has resulted in companies trying to appeal to emotions through the replication of their consumers’ emotions.

Another birth out of this revolution is the activist company. Where humor and relatability cannot sell a product, political activism can. Nike has maintained a spotlight by backing Colin Kaepernick and then by releasing and recalling Betsy Ross flag shoes once the media buzz had died down. These actions were done to appeal to the consumers’ morals, as well as to stir up controversy. Companies have continued down this road, backing more political movements and becoming more vocal on social media.  Company executives also participate in this, particularly on Twitter, where they keep up an active social media presence with their followers.

Perhaps there is an ethical conundrum presented here. If companies provide an echo chamber for political beliefs and present new issues, does that become their job? If they act as a moral force in the world, is it inappropriate for them to then ignore an issue? The major reason they take stances in the first place is because it’s an effective marketing scheme. If an issue exists that is not beneficial to defend, it is not defended.

The Hong Kong protests have become a dilemma for the modern activist company. The people of Hong Kong are fighting for their freedom from the communist Chinese government, particularly an extradition bill which would allow the Chinese government to extend their inhumane justice system to the citizens of Hong Kong. The exigence of this issue is not unlike any other issue of oppression around the world, yet for as many people as it affects, there is very little awareness of it among companies. The NBA denounced Daryl Morey’s statement supporting the people of Hong Kong because China decided not to air NBA games. This would cost the NBA billions, hence why they were so quick to denounce Morey’s statement. Homegrown protesters were removed from a game due to their shirts supporting the people of Hong Kong. A professional gamer known as Blitzchung took a moment he had on live television to support the freedom of Hong Kong, resulting in Blizzard, an American video game company, banning Blitzchung from playing Hearthstone professionally. Blizzard has since reinstated Blitzchung as a professional player after media backlash. Nike pulled all Houston Rockets memorabilia from shelves in China, and Apple removed an app from the app store that allowed Hong Kong protestors to find police.

This calls into question the money that American companies have tied up in China. If China can twist the arm of every company that comes up in some way to oppose it, China maintains total control. American companies do not necessarily support American values. American companies support the values that make them the most money. American manufacturing was replaced by borderline slave labor in China because it was cheaper. American ecological conservation has just moved pollution into China. Allowing Hong Kong to fall to China would only be the most recent in a long list of questionable ethics by American companies. The people of Hong Kong are no less people because it’s not economically beneficial to support them. #standwithHongKong

 

Hong Kong

Hearthstone player Blitzchung was banned from playing professionally after proclaiming support for Hong Kong on Live TV. Blizzard has recalled the ban after media backlash. (photo courtesy of Twitter).


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