Among the dumbest people on the planet are big corporation marketing officers and elite university presidents.
Let’s start with Pankaj Bhalla, the former North America brand director for Gillette. Remember the “Best Men Can Be” commercial that Gillette produced in January 2019? Responding to the “Me Too” movement, the commercial stereotyped the entirety of the American male population as sexist, misogynist, bullying and toxic. The commercial resulted in a torrent of condemnation, including my column of January 24, 2019.
Procter & Gamble, Gillette’s parent company, wound up taking an $8 billion charge to earnings to write down the value of Gillette. Gillette’s market share has never recovered.
Does Alissa Heinerscheid ring a bell? No? What if I say Bud Light? Ms. Heinerscheid was the marketing exec behind the Dylan Mulvaney fiasco last April that tanked Bud Light’s once industry-leading market share while killing about $5 billion of the market capitalization of AB-Inbev, the owner of Budweiser. Bud Light’s market share also plummeted and is unlikely to ever recover.
And finally, let’s consider Claudine Gay, president of Harvard University. Last week, Ms. Gay was unable in a House committee hearing to unequivocally denounce calls on campus for genocide against Jews. The question immediately arose, would she have had similar difficulty denouncing calls for genocide against blacks or gays?
The backlash against Harvard was swift and severe, with more than a billion dollars’ worth of donations rescinded or cancelled.
What Gillette, Bud Light and Harvard have in common is their status as one-time category-leading brands. They now also have in common that wokeism has inflicted upon them damage from which they will likely never recover.
Pankaj Bhalla is now in charge of the Gillette and Venus brands in Europe. Ms. Heinershcheid was fired over the Bud Light disaster. The leadership at Harvard is standing behind Ms. Gay. In the end, whether any of them stays or goes will make little difference.
Bhalla, Heinerscheid and Gay are merely symptoms of a cancer that is killing what was once strong, healthy and vibrant societal tissue. The metastasis of wokeism – together with its adjuvant DEI, (i.e. diversity, equity & inclusion) – now pervades America’s corporate C-Suites and ivy-covered university admin buildings. That wokeism stands in the way of making better razors, better beer and better educated young adults. (Oh, and better movies. I almost forgot about the box office flops emanating from über-woke Disney.)
It takes strong medicine to treat cancer. It will take strong medicine to treat wokeism. So don’t shave with Gillette razors (I no longer do). Don’t drink Bud Light (millions no longer do). And don’t send your son or daughter to Harvard (or Yale, or Stanford or any of the dozens of leftist indoctrination camps posing as elite learning institutions).
Also, urge Congress to revoke the tax-exempt status of private universities.
The sight of a late-stage lung cancer patient is a strong deterrent to taking up smoking. Let’s hope that the severe punishment meted out by the market creates a similar deterrent to corporate and academic wokeism.