Power And Dollar

Can We Do Better Than Boycott?

Boycotting the Beijing Olympics has become fashionable in HollywoodThey want to make statement and be righteous.  How much difference does it make?  Can advocates have a greater influence on the outcome?  


A boycott should always be used as a last resort because once you boycott, you are no longer engaged to the issue.  You therefore lose all influence in the outcome.  If one has no influence in the first place, then a celebrity’s boycott probably is the best move since it makes to the media and the issue gets highlighted for 30 seconds in the TV box.


However, since the said celebrity has influence in the outcome in the first place, such a boycott is not a loss to Beijing anyway.  That makes the boycott more a media stunt than anything else.  


If one wishes to have positive outcome, one should start with engagement.  If a celebrity brings humanitarian aid to a specific cause, say literacy in some remote area, this celebrity now has greater influence in the education in this geographic area.  The same positive influence on the issue cannot be achieved if the said celebrity starts with a boycott.  


If engagement is not available, boycott is still a worse off alternative to bring results.  A better option is to offer an alternative to others.  Instead of boycotting a company, provide a list of companies that are competitive to the target.  Boycotting without providing alternative is useless.  Be a solution provider. 


The same can be applied to any social movement.  Upset with Wal-Mart?  Instead of boycotting, invigorate downtown business areas.  Upset with urban sprawl?  Remove the economic incentives of the urban sprawling builders by changing the property tax structure (see my blog’s article on 2008.04.28).  


However, boycott is very cost effective for the promoter: no cost and yet 30 seconds of TV advertisement.  Boycott is the last resort not only because it is the least productive method to the issue but also narcissistic.



May 8, 2008 - Posted by | advocacy, Current Events, environment, nonprofits, opinion, politics, Tibet, wordpress-political-blogs |

1 Comment »

  1. RoyHo boycotts are the most cost efficient manner to protest something and feel good. They’re also timeless. Someone see’s someone with an obviously dated “Free Tibet” t shirt they are as likely to think this person has “always been righteous”. So ultimately boycotts are not about changing anything other than others (and perhaps your own) opinions of you.
    Great subjects lately by the way keep it up.

    Comment by Alfie | May 8, 2008 | Reply

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