Anti-GMO campaign fails to percolate. We have seen the powerful force of social media change nations, oust dictators and bring together people in ways never imagined.
Online attacks have been successful before. A few years ago when General Mills created a website to celebrate its Cheerios breakfast cereal, it was taken over by organized anti-GMO groups. General Mills had to shut down the site. Eventually, the company caved into pressure to source some of its ingredients from non-GMOs.
This month, an anti-GMO group called Green America decided to give Starbucks a caffeine headache through mass online protests about the company using milk from GMO-fed dairy cows.
Members of the social media campaign included the usual suspects, Organic Consumers Association, Friends of the Earth, Food Democracy Now and Cornucopia. Green America said in a press release that 150,000 people were set to invade cyberspace on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, to push Starbucks to switch to organic milk.
Green America’s Nicole McCann said, “When 150,000 Starbucks consumers send a message to the CEO’s office, you would expect a company of Starbucks’ caliber and reputation to sit up and pay attention. We are hoping that the combination of the overwhelming message from our petition and upcoming social media day will get Starbucks off the dime in dumping milk from cows fed GMOs.”
However when the big day rolled in, the group’s Twitter and Facebook social media campaigns backfired, with large numbers of people hijacking threads and hash tags and lashing out at the anti-GMO crowd. One person stated, “Organic milk versus non-organic milk. No difference unless you are an entitled white person who also doesn’t understand science.”
All right then.
Starbucks also refused to buckle to the rabble rousers, hanging tough in a media statement, “We understand that organic dairy is an important issue for some of our customers and are constantly evaluating our sourcing options to ensure we are offering the highest quality products. In the meantime, we do provide customers the choice of organic soy milk in our stores, globally.”
Maybe some companies are starting to figure out that just because 150,000 customers get online to protest a product doesn’t mean that the millions of customers who don’t aren’t perfectly fine with it.
It just goes to show. When you mount a social media campaign, you can never really predict what is going to happen. Fortunately, this one failed to percolate.