It’s time for your favorite brands to pick a political side

You wouldn’t expect that standing up for humanity, dignity and equity — or against hate, racism, xenophobia and sexism — would stir controversy for a cereal or a car or a cup of coffee. But in today’s America, it does.

Consider that for taking a quiet stand against hate speech by pulling its ads from the alt-right site Breitbart, Kellogg’s is targeted with #DumpKelloggs by readers who saw the brand’s actions as an attack on their values. Target removes gender-based signage from its toy aisle, and outraged customers insist they’ll never set foot in the store again. Audi champions equal pay for women in its Super Bowl ad, and while the carmaker was applauded by some, others pilloried the brand across social media for suggesting things aren’t as they should be . And Starbucks’ stand for refugees and against the recent immigration ban led some to #BoycottStarbucks.

Five weeks into Donald Trump ‘s Administration, and at a time when expressing cultural values can end decades-long relationships in the time it takes to post 140 characters, consumers and employees are looking for new ways to be heard, represented and served. They’re increasingly voting with their voices, their choices and their wallets. Brands need to take heed, or pay the consequences.