|John Tamihere If John Tamihere wants to continue to spouting ignorant populist drivel on Radio Live, CanWest may find that bigotry costs money. Isn't it time we considered a boycott? How would we go about it? Here's how it would work. First, we use sympathetic LGBT-owned businesses to divest their advertising spend from Radio Live, and ask friendly corporates to also consider taking their business to rival media outlets. After that, we then move on to persuading Radio Live's other advertisers to spend their advertising and marketing revenue elsewhere. As long as CanWest does not adhere to the Code of Broadcasting Practice's provisions on objectivity, neutrality and balance, they can expect to receive such attention. Product boycotts are nothing particularly new. Forty-something readers may remember that South Africa faced anti-apartheid movement boycotts of their products until the fall of apartheid in the early nineties. More recently, after Colorado passed an anti-gay citizens initiated referendum, then the US LGBT communities boycotted their alpine tourism venues until the US Supreme Court negated the referendum result in 1996. LGBT New Zealanders have never pursued this strategy ourselves against a particular offending industry or product/service provider, so perhaps it's time we did so. CanWest has had an unfortunate reputation for featuring loud, ignorant populist right-wing talkback hosts on Radio Pacific before this, and I suspect it will not take too much persuasion to shift Radio Live's advertising revenue in the appropriate direction. It's time that commercial radio and its advertisers stopped pandering to bottom of the barrel demographics, and realised that bigotry can cost them in terms of foregone product placement, advertising revenue and marketplace support. While LGBT political campaigners have not as yet mounted any organised boycotts, our US counterparts have intervened in consumer pressure campaigns against particular products and services associated with antigay individuals and organisations within the United States. In particular, two cases stand out. One is the Anita Bryant antigay campaign against Florida's Dade County, where she was successful in getting the county to repeal its inclusive antidiscrimination laws after fundamentalists supported her. In retaliation, US lesbian and gay rights activists organised a highly effective consumer boycott of Florida's lucrative citrus crops, costing Bryant lucrative sponsorship deals, and other former sponsors of the fundamentalist gospel singer soon followed. Her career and marriage crashed and burned as a result. In the nineties, Colorado passed a citizens referendum invalidating any inclusion of the state LGBT communities within state antidiscrimination laws. In response, US LGBT rights organisations were joined by the feminist National Organisation for Women, National Council for Social Studies, US Conference of Mayors, Atlanta and Philadelphia municipal workers, and others. The "Boycott Colorado" campaign targeted both air travel to the inland state, as well as its lucrative alpine tourist industry and convention facilities. National US educational, legal, political, religious and business concerns joined the anti-Colorado boycott, as well as corporates and universities. In response, the state lost an estimated $US forty milllion in lost revenue from foregone conventions, relocated television productions, tourist cancellations, and government service official travel from New York City and Los Angeles. It all ended happuly for all concerned when the Colorado and US Supreme Courts struck down the discriminatory referendum result, and the boycott ended in victory. According to N.Craig Smith, boycotts should involve several aspects to be successful. To achieve optimal success, they might want to target particular products and services in a highly competitive market, which magnifies the potential effect if one convinces potential consumers to boycott a particular product or service that is easily replaceable. To increase effectiveness, there might productively be collaboration with trade unions, suppliers, and vendors to persuade them to change their relationships with the targeted company, product or service. As these tactics escalate, the company may eventually knuckle under, given its loss of revenue. If it doesn't, it bids fair to escalate further. For example, failing to rein in one errant talkback host might result in further scaling up of a campaign to include all advertisers that feature on given programming. It might also be useful targeting banks if they carry accounts for the offending party. At some point, the financial institution may get serious jitters if there's a question of a mass outflow of divesting offended and alienated consumers. Remember, corporates hate negative public perceptions of their products and services, and may be quick to respond in a tight market for their products and services. Boycotts rely for success on other factors too, such as frequency and regularity of consumption of products and services- or alternatives to those same products and services. In the case of commercial radio, one imagines that they would be highly vulnerable indeed to sudden truncation of long-term advertising revenue from product placements. So what are we waiting for? Turn off Tamihere! Don't let Live thrive!
Recommended: Monroe Friedman: Consumer Boycotts: Effecting Change through the Marketplace and Media: New York: Routledge: 1999. S.Sen: "Marketing and Minority Civil Rights: The Case of Amendment 2 and the Colorado Boycott" Journal of Public Policy and Marketing: 15: 311-318. N.Craig Smith: Morality and the Market: Consumer Pressure for Corporate Availability: London: Routledge: 1990. Craig Young - 25th April 2007