Brands That Lost Popularity for Becoming ‘Woke’

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Apr 14, 2024

In the modern era, many brands have publicly come out to support social justice issues. While some consumers have supported these brands, others have called them out for becoming “woke.”

These so-called woke brands have even occasionally fallen in popularity because of their takes on social issues.

Disney

For a while now, Disney has been the target of more conservative-leaning people who believe that the company is trying to push a woke agenda. That criticism has only fueled more backlash against Disney by these detractors for various reasons.

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Disney’s ongoing quest to create more diverse films — particularly when they create live-action remakes of beloved animated movies — has caused many to swear off all Disney movies, shows, and products. This backlash apparently has Disney worried about their popularity.  

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Netflix

Similarly to Disney, Netflix has also been accused of pandering to the alleged woke mob. Some detractors believe that Netflix is attempting to push a woke agenda on its subscribers by getting rid of shows like “The Office.”

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These types of shows are then replaced with more progressive shows, such as feminist or LGBTQ+ shows, according to these critics. Recently, Netflix seems to have reversed this programming strategy, which former critics have applauded.  

Pepsi

PepsiCo faced outrage from both sides of the aisle when they ran an ad that featured Kendall Jenner. In this commercial, Jenner is at a rally. She walks over to where the police are standing and hands one officer a can of Pepsi.

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Conservatives called out Pepsi for trying to be woke. But even more liberal-leaning Americans bashed PepsiCo, as they stated the company was belittling protest movements, such as Black Lives Matter.

Bud Light

Bud Light is one of the most recent brands to stumble in their quest to become more socially liberal. For Pride Month, the beer company partnered with TikTok trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

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The backlash from conservative groups was swift. Many politicians and celebrities publicly called Bud Light out, which eventually led to a boycott of all Bud Light products. Now, the once-popular beer has greatly fallen in overall popularity in the U.S.

Starbucks

As the largest coffeehouse chain in the world, Starbucks is no stranger to backlash. They’ve weathered many storms as detractors have called them out. However, one of their biggest battles came as they announced they were switching to paper straws.

A close-up of a Starbucks coffee cup on a wooden surface.

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Immediately, many people criticized the company. Some even said they were virtue signaling. Even liberal customers who want to stop climate change were against these straws, as paper straws don’t hold up very well in use.  

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Coca-Cola

In 2021, Coca-Cola experienced huge backlash from many after one of the company’s seminars leaked. In this seminar, the staff was asked to “be less white.”

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This quickly led to critics saying the drink beverage company was being blatantly racist and discriminating against white people. Though Coca-Cola only creates neutral marketing and advertising, this one event led to a massive fallout with some customers.  

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Oreo

For years now, Oreo has faced ongoing criticism thanks to the company’s continued support of the LGBTQ+ community. In 2020, one million mothers threatened to boycott Oreo over their ad campaigns for the LGBTQ+ community.

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That backlash has only continued on into 2024. Oreo hasn’t made any plans to stop its allyship with this specific community, even though some conservative groups have called them out.

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Mars

Food giant Mars revealed in 2020 that they would change their brand name Uncle Ben’s to Ben’s Original. This change came after Mars was called out by social justice organizations who claimed this name was a racial stereotype.

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However, once Mars changed this name, criticism came from the opposite end of the political spectrum. Detractors stated that Mars was pandering to the woke mob and shouldn’t have changed a decades-old brand name.  

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Gillette

Gillette attempted to wade into social issues with an ad campaign called “The Best Men Can Be.” This ad challenged many things, from toxic masculinity to bullying. While it touched on social topics that some wanted to hear, it also created a huge storm online.

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Many men claimed they felt insulted by this ad, while others said Gillette was pushing an anti-male agenda.

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Nike

In 2023, Nike also partnered up with TikTok trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Similarly to what occurred to Bud Light, backlash quickly followed. Many called for boycotting the company for apparently going woke.

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However, some in the U.S. did support Nike amid this backlash. This support didn’t seem to help the brand, as it appears that sales have begun to slow for the once incredibly popular sportswear company.  

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Target

Many called out Target and its alleged woke agenda in 2023 when the retail giant revealed their LGBTQ+ collection. Some harassment from vocal anti-LGBTQ+ organizations led to Target removing some of these products to try to protect their employees.

A Target store with cars parked in front of it.

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This only led to backlash from more liberal-minded shoppers who didn’t think they should’ve pulled the collection off the store floors. The retailer even admitted that this backlash hurt their overall sales.

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