In February ColorOfChange sent letters to Coca-Cola, Google, Xerox, Adobe Systems, AT&T, and Cisco Systems asking them not to support the Republican National Convention if Donald Trump was the nominee. Pressure has been increasing and Coke has responded by backing away slowly from the crazy that is the sure to be the Republican convention, where Donald Trump has promised “riots” if he is not nominated.
The New York Times reported that Coca-Cola has heard the complaints brought by ColorofChange and has already declined to sponsor the Republican National Convention to the same level of $600,000.00 as they did in 2012. In fact, they had donated $75,000.00 and they have no plans to donate more.
Why? ColorofChange has a more than 100,000 signatures on a petition demanding that the companies that sponsor the convention decline to do so this year, including Google, Walmart, Xerox, and Apple.
Kent Landers, a Coca-Cola spokesman, declined to explain the reduction in support. But officials at the company are trying to quietly defuse a campaign organized by the civil rights advocacy group Color of Change, which says it has collected more than 100,000 signatures on a petition demanding that Coca-Cola, Google, Xerox and other companies decline to sponsor the convention. Donating to the event, the petition states, is akin to endorsing Mr. Trump’s “hateful and racist rhetoric.’’
The Republican convention will take place in Cleveland, Ohio between July 18 and July 21.
Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange, said in a statement that this isn’t about left and right, it’s about Trump’s violent rhetoric, “We have said from the beginning that this isn’t about left or right, but about right and wrong. Donald Trump’s violent rhetoric, has inflamed a national atmosphere already hostile to Latino, Muslim, and Black communities as well as women and people with disabilities”
Robinson continued, “He has inspired violent attacks on peaceful protesters and journalists and all the while has continued to be given a free pass by much of mainstream media and corporate sponsors. This is not “business as usual” and corporations should not continue to treat it as such.”
But ColorofChange wants more than just not donating more money to the actual convention. They want companies to pull advertisements and promotions as well, “We are glad that Coca-Cola is choosing to do the right thing, by rethinking what will surely be a international platform for more hate and intolerance. We demand that Coca-Cola and other current sponsors stop the promotion of their products and airing of commercials during the convention, that they agree that they will not make in-kind donations and that they withdraw any initial pledges.”
ColorofChange is challenging the other companies, “Like Coca-Cola, other companies have a history-making choice in front of them right now. Our questions to them are: are you willing to attach your branding to someone so belligerent that they have threatened riots at the convention? Someone whose campaign manager has no qualms about physically attacking journalists and who has offered to pay the legal fees of anyone who attacks peaceful protesters? The choice should be obvious and it’s disappointing this even has to be debated. We will continue to publicly pressure any company who takes our money by day and still pledges to sponsor hateful, violent rhetoric and policies at night.”
Hateful rhetoric has its costs, and one of them is that no matter how much money companies will pour into dark money outlets like SuperPACs, they don’t want to be publicly associated with the kind of hate speech and violence Donald Trump ignites.
This is the beginning of the end for the long, fruitful and public relationship between corporations and the GOP unless Republicans can rein this in quickly.