By Erin Garry
For Unwind magazine
Within the last month, the CEO of Uber stepped down from President Trump’s advisory council after his company went under severe public criticism and boycott.
The hashtag #DeleteUber was trending a few weeks ago after users interpreted a message sent from Uber as an attempt to lure business during the taxi cab protest at Kennedy Airport in response to Trump’s immigration executive order. The message stated that Uber would turn off their surge pricing feature around the area, which infuriated many despite the fact that the message was sent out 30 minutes after the strike concluded.
Many users deleted their Uber accounts and instead installed Lyft. App Annie reported that, due to this boycott, in less than a week Lyft jumped from the 35 to 15 in iPhone app rankings, while Uber dropped from 11 to 20.
To add fuel to the fire, Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, served on Trump’s economic council, so he was already branded as in support with the executive order. Uber drivers, most of whom are immigrants, were offended by Kalanick’s position on the board knowing Trump’s stance on immigration.
The New York Times reported that in an email to his employees announcing his resignation from the council, Kalanick said, “There are many ways we will continue to advocate for just change on immigration, but staying on the council was going to get in the way of that.”
Are these boycotts actually working? The San Francisco Chronicle notes that these boycotts are not only hurting Trump’s revenues, but also his ego.
“Personally, once I know that a company supports Trump I am less likely to go there,” said freshman government and politics major Jacqueline Bartha.
She thinks that Uber used protests of the travel bans to capitalize on profits. She said she made the decision to switch to using Lyft as a result of the Uber scandal in combination with Lyft’s donations to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Boycotts have occurred before, but these are reaching a different level.
Freshman journalism major Athiyah Azeri said she understands why people who oppose him are boycotting, even though she generally does not use the services in question to begin with.
“I wouldn’t use it if I were them… and I support the form of protest,” says Azeri.
On the other hand, sophomore communications major Alexandra Daglio believes many people, regardless of political affiliation complain that corporations are too involved in politics.
She continued to say that by creating these boycotts, these same people are “encouraging or demanding that companies be involved in politics. You can’t have it both ways.”
Other students fully support the boycotts and we have seen protests.
Uber is not the only company facing issues because of affiliations with Trump. Starting during his campaign, NBC dropped the Miss America Pageant, owned by Trump, from its network and Macy’s stopped carrying Trump’s menswear line due to his comments that Mexican immigrants were “rapists” and “murderers.”
Fast-forward to his presidency, and Ivanka Trump’s clothing lines are taking a major hit. Nordstrom dropped the line due to a decline in sales, Shoes.com stopped selling her footwear as customers called for a boycott, and Neiman Marcus declined to comment on as to why they suddenly stopped carrying her brands.
An online group started a campaign called Grab Your Wallet created two lists of companies – ones that have not directly stated support for Trump but continue to carry his affiliated brands and ones that have directly supported him – as a guide for those who are considering boycotts.
It will be interesting to see what influence these boycotts have, not only on the companies involved, but also on Trump’s policies.