Monday, July 26, 2021

Tribalism Is A Tar Pit

The guys at Black Rifle Coffee Company have provided us with an excellent case study in why overtly joining a political side is a trap for businesses. They're the veteran-owned and operated coffee company that has produced hilarious videos featuring over-the-top machismo and lots of guns. I've really enjoyed them.

BRCC advertises on a ton of right-wing podcasts and shows. They were the poster children for a fun, freedom-loving company. And then they went and gave an interview to the New York Times where they sneered at some of their supporters and called them racists.

What's interesting to me is not the content of the interview, but the reactions from the two tribes. BRCC has self-destructed and they should have seen it coming a mile away. I've not paid much attention to the apologies and explanations, but it sure looks to me like it was a setup by the NYT. I think it was a pretty sophisticated takedown of a very successful "red" company. The NYT crew knew exactly what they were doing and the BRCC guys walked right into the ambush.

Anywho, the Twitter reactions give us an easy data set to analyze. The BRCC guys said all the right things for the NYT readers, coming out hard against racism, saying they didn't want any customers who were guilty of wrongthink. If the tribes were reasonable, this would have earned them some thoughtful consideration.

The tribes are most certainly not reasonable. Here's a quick sampling of open-minded, compassionate blue thinking on the topic.

  • “I’m just simply saying there are things in business that are completely outside your control.” Also, “[BRC] endorsed Trump’s Muslim ban.” The New York Times sure loves mainstreaming bigots.
  • I support their vision to help Veterans, coming from a family w/a very long history of serving. However, their views are myopic, misogynistic & quite frankly, drawing the wrong crowds & that doesn’t happen by accident. We will find another way to support our Vets. 👋 Black Rifle.
  • Shouldn’t it be White Rifle Coffee?
  • So the business plan is to give the finger to a plurality of Americans and romanticize the tools of violence and death? Hasn't society had enough sadness and pain caused by gun violence? Black Rifle doesn't think so, they wanna remind us first thing in the morning.

The reds, of course, were apoplectic that one of their darlings had betrayed them so badly. Rational thought? Not so much.

  • An AMAZING quote “Black Rifle Coffee sucks and their leadership are spineless, woke and weak. Luckily their fake, chump asses were exposed”
  • Yeah i stopped my blcc subscription and this morning am enjoying a cup of @Beard_Vet range rum coffee. Outstandingcuppa joe! Much better than black rifle.
  • Just your occasional reminder: #BlackRifleCoffee smeared a kid and his supporters to get some accolades from the New York Times. Oh, and their coffee sucks.

And that, my friends, is why your business should avoid politics at all costs. The tribes are not rational and they are not forgiving. Any misstep will cost you dearly.

I didn't click through to see the essay, but I don't think it matters. This image could be used by both sides.

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