Recent tales of networked social movements exerting pressure on governments and businesses.
This Week: Tim Hortons, Enbridge and Sumofus.org
Iconic Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons had no sooner signed a deal to allow pro-pipeline advertising on its branded tv network than a grassroots network sprang into action denouncing the agreement and flooding social channels with angry messages.
The advertiser was Enbridge, a major energy player in Canada pushing a controversial pipeline project that would pump crude from Alberta’s high-carbon oil sands to markets in Asia via the Pacific coast. The networked campaigner was Sumofus, an online petition network “Fighting for people over profits.”
Within three weeks of airing, a petition via Sumofus had raised almost 30K signatures and mobilized several notable Canadian figures to denounce Tim Hortons for airing the ads. Feeling the reputational body blow, the coffee chain yanked the ads.
- Corporate reputation is a pressure point increasingly easy to target through online swarming
- With almost 6 million members, online pressure networks such as Sumofus are large enough inflict pain on almost any corporation, regardless of its size
- Oil and gas companies are slowly but surely becoming pariahs that few B2C brands will want to partner with
- For my analysis of a parallel case in 2014, see: Why Greenpeace is smart to target Lego to get at Shell
- Sumofus petition site
- More on the Enbridge-Tim Horton- Sumofus story here