5 Most Notable Product Boycotts In Recent History

By: Saisha Dixit  | | 3 mins Sep 7, 2021

The thing with boycotts is that they’re hardly ever successful. People coming together for a cause and valuing their ethics over convenience is pretty rare. That's why it's always fascinating to see when a huge number of people actually come together and leave an actual impact, regardless of whether the boycott was actually successful or not.


Here are 5 such product boycotts throughout history.


1. The NFL Boycott


It all started in 2016 when then quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick dropped to one knee during the national anthem. He claimed the ‘taking the knee’ gesture was to be a peaceful protest against racial injustice and police brutality in the US. However, this was interpreted as disrespecting the national anthem and thus, the country by some and caused a huge controversy. As a result, Kaepernick was not signed with the NFL the next year, and fans were outraged. His supporters urged people to boycott the NFL and the change.org petition for the cause acquired over 200,000 signatures. As for the ratings, it only saw a 2% drop compared to its drop in the previous year, but this campaign was huge on social media.  



Although the NFL did tweet this after the Black Lives Matter movement of last year.


2. Nike Boycott


On the other side of the same controversy, Kaepernick was made the face of Nike. This, of course, caused many patriotic Americans to boycott Nike; but most of the ‘boycott’ seemed to be confined on Twitter where people were burning their Nikes which they already paid for. #BurnYourNikes was trending on Twitter and even then-president, Donald Trump was fanning the flames of outrage. Ultimately, this boycott fizzled out and did not really hurt Nike, instead, they gained more support from the black community.



3. New Coke Boycott


Coca-cola once took a very big risk of trying to reformulate the Coke that we all know and love and it was understandably a major failure. In 1985 Coke was losing market share to soft drinks and various surveys indicated and customers preferred a sweet drink, much like its rival Pepsi. So Coke decided to give the people what they thought wanted and made the drink sweeter and launched it under the name ‘New Coke’. That didn’t go so well; everyone boycotted the drink and they lost an even significant amount of market share. Although they quickly realized their mistake went back to the original formula and most of the lost customers were gained back, this is still a fascinating display of how people are reluctant to change.  



4. Chick-fil-A Boycott


Back in 2012, it came to light that the founder of Chick-fil-A Dan T. Cathy, was homophobic and not only made derogatory remarks about the LGBT community but also donated to various anti-LGBT organizations. Soon enough the LGBT community and liberals in general boycotted Chick-fil-A and vowed never to eat there again. However, this actually worked in Chick-fil-A’s favor because they are seen as a Christian fast-food chain (they’re even closed on Sundays to let people go to church) and there’s a huge overlap between people who are Christians and ones who don’t support the LGBT community in the US. So their followers supported Chick-fil-A even more and it faced little to no dents in profits as far as we could see. 


However, this boycott did seem to work in the end because Chick-fil-A has stopped donating to these organizations as of 2019 and stated that they support same-sex marriage.



5. Nestle Boycott


Nestle was boycotted in 1977 after its most popular and heavily advertised baby formula was linked to infant mortality in developing countries. Nestle agreed to implement the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes in 1984 for so the controversy died down, but it has resurfaced to some extent in 2018 after it was found out that they violated the code repeatedly.


However, Nestlé’s unethical practices have recently been brought to light and the violations aren’t the end of it. In third world countries like some countries of Africa, they give new mothers free baby food, and once the mothers no longer produce milk naturally, they charge ridiculous prices for them. Nestle has over 2000 brands under their belt to boycotting them might not really be possible, but we should at least try to spread information regarding this. Here’s a video that dives into this.



Which boycott did you find most fascinating? Tell us in the comments! Make sure to follow us at Yeti Yap if you enjoyed this list.


Also read: 7 Unexplained Celebrity Deaths That Are Still Shrouded In Mystery



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