An activist campaign seeks to shame U.S.
companies over Trump
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[June 24, 2016]
By Emily Stephenson
(Reuters) - Disturbed by Donald Trump's
presidential campaign, U.S. activists have taken out online
advertisements, circulated petitions, put up billboards and even chipped
in for an airplane banner to try to shame companies into dropping their
sponsorships of the Republican National Convention in July.
The campaign, led by the political arm of California-based
advocacy group Color of Change, seeks to weaken Trump's White House
bid by pressuring companies to skip the Cleveland convention where
he is expected to formally become the nominee.
"The fact of the matter is that any employee of these Fortune 500
companies that are sponsoring the convention, if any of those
employees went into their job and said the things Donald Trump is
saying, they'd be fired," said Rashad Robinson, spokesman for Color
of Change PAC.
Minority groups and others have been outraged by Trump's rhetoric
and positions on immigration, including proposals to temporarily ban
Muslims from entering the country, deport millions of immigrants who
enter illegally and build a wall along the Mexican border.
The anti-Trump effort, which has yielded mixed results, has included
letters to executives of more than 30 companies including Coca-Cola
and Apple Inc, and conversations with officials at Amazon,
Hewlett-Packard and others.
In the case of Coca-Cola, Color of Change circulated a petition
accompanied by images showing a soda bottle labeled "Share a Coke
with the KKK." The Ku Klux Klan, or KKK, is a white supremacist
Companies sponsor conventions for a variety of reasons. Some are
local and want to show support. Others hope to make an impression
with elected officials or to display their brands on a nationally
The most public aspect of the activist campaign focused on Google
Inc. In April, several groups partnered on a petition they delivered
to the tech giant's campus with half a million signatures urging
Google to skip the gathering.
"Really big companies don't have any motivation to pull their
support in any way without some pressure from everyday people, from
their customers," said Mary Alice Crim of Free Press Action Fund,
which joined the campaign.
'DUMP' TRUMP BANNER
Color of Change and three other groups added to the pressure by
chipping in for an airplane banner while they were on Google's
campus urging it to "Dump" Trump.
In May, Color of Change used "geofenced" online ads, confined to
smartphones in a specific area targeted to Google workers, showing
Trump with an upturned nose and a crown on his head, according to an
image provided to Reuters. Another group, CREDO Action, placed
anti-Trump ads on Facebook aimed at people who listed Google as
Color of Change placed billboards in San Francisco showing Trump in
a red baseball cap emblazoned with "Make America Hate Again," a play
on the candidate's "Make America Great Again" slogan.
A separate group led by the United Food & Commercial Workers
International Union sent retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc a letter
urging it to withdraw support for the Republican gathering. Color of
Change signed onto the letter.
"As you must know, Mr. Trump has implied that Mexican immigrants are
drug dealers and rapists," said the letter from Making Change at
Wal-Mart, which became public on Thursday.
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives at his
Turnberry golf course, in Turnberry, Scotland, Britain June 24,
2016. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
"If you do choose to remain silent, we must ask: Are Mr. Trump's
values the same as Walmart's values?"
The effort appears to have had little effect on overall fund-raising
for Cleveland. Emily Lauer, a spokeswoman, said the event is on
track to raise the $64 million needed to meet its budget. Trump
spokeswoman Hope Hicks declined to comment.
Some companies that gave to the convention in 2012 have decided not
to do so again, such as Hewlett-Packard, which gave computer
equipment and a monetary donation in 2012. Others, like Wal-Mart,
have scaled back their contributions.
None of these companies, when reached by Reuters, attributed the
moves to Trump or outside pressure. Most said they would provide
similar support to both parties' conventions, though the full level
of corporate support will not be clear until government filings
become available afterwards.
Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Hitt said the company gave $15,000 to both
parties' conventions, less than the $150,000 it gave the Republican
gathering in 2012, according to government filings.
Others have not detailed all their plans. Google, for example, will
offer live-streaming services in Cleveland, but a company
spokeswoman would not tell Reuters whether Google will also
Robinson said companies have been more responsive behind the scenes.
He said after exchanges with Coca-Cola, the company informed them it
would not give more than the $75,000 it already had donated, less
than it gave the 2012 Republican gathering. Coca-Cola told Reuters
its support for the conventions does not represent an endorsement.
Heidi Hess of CREDO Action said the emphasis on corporate
sponsorship would not end with the July 18-21 convention.
"I think there's still some conversation to be had about, if
corporations actually do sponsor the convention, then how do we hold
them accountable afterward?" Hess said.
(Additional reporting by Meg Garner, Deborah Todd, Lisa Baertlein
and Julia Love; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Howard Goller)
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