18 American Companies Who Went Woke and Lost Out Big Time

Companies often try to show they stand for more than just profits by getting involved in social issues. But what happens when these moves end up backfiring? Here’s a look at 18 companies that missed the mark.

1. Abercrombie & Fitch’s Diversity Disaster

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Abercrombie & Fitch aimed to promote diversity but faced backlash for not practicing what they preached in their hiring and marketing strategies. The public noticed, and their reputation took a hit.

2. Pepsi’s Protest Ad

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Pepsi tried to tap into social activism with an ad featuring Kendall Jenner easing a protest with a soda. It felt tone-deaf and was quickly pulled after a wave of criticism.

3. Google’s Algorithm Adjustment

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Google modified its algorithms to boost diversity in job candidate suggestions, but critics argued it was a cosmetic fix rather than a real change in corporate culture, sparking debate and dissatisfaction.

4. Dove’s Diverse Ad Misses

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Dove intended to celebrate diversity with a progressive ad campaign, but ended up oversimplifying complex issues. The campaign was perceived as shallow and led to consumer backlash.

5. Burger King’s Pride Whopper

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Burger King introduced a Pride burger but gave only a small fraction of the proceeds to LGBTQ+ causes. Customers called out the effort as a superficial marketing tactic, damaging the brand’s image.

6. Starbucks Holiday Cup Controversy

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Starbucks released a plain red holiday cup meant to be inclusive of all celebrations but ended up alienating customers who felt the brand was dismissing Christmas, leading to a holiday headache.

7. H&M’s Tone-Deaf Designs

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H&M featured a young Black child in a sweatshirt with a questionable slogan, causing outrage for its insensitivity. The fallout was swift, with a significant hit to their credibility.

8. Lululemon’s Anti-Sunscreen Fiasco

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Lululemon made a bizarre claim against sunscreen on their shopping bags, which contradicted health advice. The weird stance confused customers and health advocates alike, tarnishing their wellness image.

9. Chick-fil-A’s Donation Debacle

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Chick-fil-A faced boycotts after it was revealed that they donated to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations. Despite later changing their donation practices, the damage to their public image lingered.

10. Gillette’s #MeToo Misfire

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Gillette released an ad supporting the #MeToo movement, encouraging men to hold each other accountable. The message was polarizing, and many saw it as an unnecessary moral lecture from a razor company.

11. Audi’s Gender Pay Gap Ad

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Audi aired a Super Bowl ad promoting equal pay for equal work, but was quickly called out for its own gender pay discrepancies, making the ad seem hypocritical and leading to public criticism.

12. Coca-Cola’s Diversity Training

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Coca-Cola implemented a diversity training program that urged employees to be “less white,” which sparked significant controversy and accusations of fostering reverse racism.

13. Adidas’s Uncaged Collection

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Adidas released the “Uncaged” line of sneakers with a questionable design that many likened to shackles. The design was widely criticized as insensitive, prompting a quick discontinuation.

14. Tarte Cosmetics’ Foundation Shades

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Tarte Cosmetics launched a foundation line with an embarrassingly limited range of dark shades. The oversight led to accusations of racism and alienated a large segment of potential customers.

15. NFL’s Handling of Kaepernick

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The NFL faced backlash for its handling of Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the national anthem, which many perceived as a dismissal of serious racial issues, leading to calls for boycotts.

16. Zara’s Pepe the Frog Skirt

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Zara sold a skirt featuring a frog that resembled the controversial “Pepe the Frog” meme, associated with hate groups. The lack of awareness in their design choice cost them dearly in public relations.

17. Shein’s Swastika Necklace

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Shein listed a necklace featuring a swastika on their website, sparking immediate outrage for its offensive symbolism. The item was quickly removed, but the incident left a stain on their brand.

18. Urban Outfitters’ Kent State Sweatshirt

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Urban Outfitters sold a Kent State sweatshirt that appeared to have bloodstains, a reference to the 1970 Kent State shootings. The insensitive design drew widespread condemnation.

Woke to Broke

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As companies navigate the complex terrain of social advocacy, the line between genuine commitment and brand strategy can often blur, leading to significant consumer backlash. These cases serve as reminders that in the realm of corporate “wokeness,” authenticity and deep alignment with core values are crucial for avoiding the pitfalls of public disapproval.

The post 18 American Companies Who Went Woke and Lost Out first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.