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Walt Disney Makes a Move Likely to Enrage DeSantis

When you operate a business, you can target the broadest audience possible or hyperserve a niche. 

Some companies build a following by targeting a group that perceives itself as underserved by the leading brands or that is put off by something those companies do.

Take a brand like Black Rifle Coffee.  (BRCC) – Get Free Report The coffee brand, which sells roughly the same product lineup as any other coffee-bar chain, markets itself as more American and — without exactly saying it — right-wing and conservative than market leader Starbucks (SBUX) – Get Free Report, a company often called out for its left-leaning policies.

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The founders of Black Rifle position their brand as being proudly unwoke, and while they never mention Starbucks, they’re clearly leaning into right-wing opinions about the brand. In its website “About Us,” the upstart coffee company makes its position very clear.   

Black Rifle Coffee Company serves coffee and culture to people who love America.

We develop our explosive roast profiles with the same mission focus we learned as military members serving this great country and are committed to supporting veterans, law enforcement, and first responders.

It’s a brilliant strategy that plays into how some people feel about Starbucks without actually mentioning the company. Black Rifle doesn’t say it directly, but the company makes it clear that you’ll hear “Merry Christmas” and not “Happy Holidays” (as you’d hear at Starbucks) when December rolls around.

Starbucks, like most companies trying to reach the largest audience possible, has opted for an inclusive approach. 

Both companies, to be clear, are using marketing strategies designed to maximize their business, and neither likely makes any move for purely ideology-based reasons.

Starbucks wants to serve as many people as possible. Black Rifle wants to carve out a customer base from people who feel as if the dominant chain does not meet their ideological needs. 

Both companies have valid strategies, and while the virtue signaling on both sides can get loud, at the end of the day the two chains just want to sell you coffee.

Every year, the Starbucks holiday cup is debated. 

Image source: Starbucks

Walt Disney Takes a Careful Approach

Walt Disney (DIS) – Get Free Report stands ideologically closer to Starbucks although the entertainment company has generally been very careful. It has been inclusive: In recent years it has depicted a broader range of characters in its movies, including gay, non-binary, and transgender characters.

The company has also taken a stand against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s so-called Don’t Say Gay legislation. Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek took that position reluctantly because Disney also wants to serve the broadest audience possible.

Yes, the company hosts gay pride events and spoke out on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community in Florida. But it also holds a Candlelight Processional at Epcot every night for more than a month leading up to (and just after) Christmas.

“For those unfamiliar with it, Candlelight Processional at Walt Disney World is the telling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator with music sung by a mass choir and performed by a 50-piece live orchestra,” Disney Tourist Blog says. “It’s one component of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, which also includes the World Showcase Storytellers and Holiday Kitchen food booths.” 

Disney, like Starbucks, is trying to serve as many people as possible — not as a political move, but as a business practice — but its inclusivity efforts have been targeted by DeSantis. 

Now, something Disney has done every year since 2018 is likely to step up its battles with Florida’s governor.

Disney Releases Its Pride Collection 

Disney Marketing Executive Vice President Lisa Becket shared the release of the 2023 Disney Pride Collection on the company’s theme-park blog. 

She noted that the merchandise offering was created by members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community and has grown since its debut in 2018.

“At Disney Parks, we want our guests and cast members to see themselves reflected in the Disney stories, experiences, and products they know and love — all year long — and we are grateful to work with members and allies of the community to deliver products that are authentic,” she shared.

The collection includes apparel, accessories, plush, and pins across Disney brands. Some of the items are being offered for a limited time while others will sell out.

Disney isn’t making a statement here, and it isn’t answering a challenge from DeSantis. Nor is it being woke, as the governor has accused. The company is creating products to serve a part of its customer base. That’s not politics or provocation or some sort of insult to its right-wing customers. It’s simply business.

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