Ex­perts say Delta’s de­ci­sion on NRA is ‘econ 101’

But it’s still dan­ger­ous

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - BUSINESS - BY TYLER ESTEP

Com­pa­nies like Delta Air Lines walk a del­i­cate line when they wade into di­vi­sive so­cial is­sues like gun con­trol, busi­ness and pub­lic re­la­tions ex­perts said.

But, de­ci­sions like cut­ting ties with the Na­tional

Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion in the midst of so­cial me­dia up­roar, they said, also can come down to ba­sic busi­ness strat­egy. Com­pa­nies like Delta, which have long been hes­i­tant to make any kind of po­lit­i­cal state­ment, may be left to de­cide which group could hurt prof­its the least if of­fended.

Then again, eco­nomic ram­i­fi­ca­tions can come from else­where. On Mon­day, Delta’s de­ci­sion to end its con­tract of­fer­ing dis­counted rates for NRA mem­bers led con­ser­va­tives in Ge­or­gia’s state leg­is­la­ture to block a lu­cra­tive tax break the air­line was in line to re­ceive.

“It’s econ 101, or busi­ness 201,” said Tom Smith, an econ­o­mist with the Goizueta Busi­ness School at Emory Univer­sity. “It’s a de­mand-, ser­vice-ori­ented in­dus­try and they rely on con­sumers to sell their prod­uct. And in terms of con­sumers, I think there are sur­veys out there that the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple are in­ter­ested in some kind of what’s called ‘com­mon sense gun leg­is­la­tion.’”

Delta made its de­ci­sion on Satur­day, amid a gun con­trol de­bate reignited fol­low­ing the deadly school shoot­ing in Park­land, Fla. United Air­lines ended its sim­i­lar of­fer shortly af­ter Delta an­nounced its de­ci­sion and sev­eral other com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing ma­jor rental car groups, did the same.

The back­lash — which ex­ploded on so­cial me­dia with hash­tags such as Boy­cottNRA — was largely the re­sult of pro­gres­sive web­site ThinkProgress pub­lish­ing a list of com­pa­nies with NRA part­ner­ships. That list, sub­se­quently pro­moted by sur­vivors-turned-ac­tivists from Park­land, in­cluded Delta, United and sev­eral other com­pa­nies that have since ended their re­la­tion­ships with the NRA.

Af­ter com­pa­nies be­gan cut­ting ties, some re­ceived new back­lash, this time from up­set gun own­ers and Sec­ond Amend­ment groups. And, in Delta’s case, state leg­is­la­tors.

Mon­day morn­ing, House Speaker David Ral­son called Delta’s de­ci­sion — which the air­line char­ac­ter­ized as re­mov­ing it­self from the conversation — as a vil­i­fi­ca­tion of the Sec­ond Amend­ment. By the af­ter­noon, Lt. Gov. Casey Ca­gle said he would not sup­port a $50 mil­lion jet fuel sales tax ex­emp­tion that would ben­e­fit Delta un­til the air­line “changes its po­si­tion and fully re­in­states its re­la­tion­ship with the NRA.”

“Con­sumers to­day ex­pect the brand that they buy into has their be­liefs,” said David John­son, the CEO of Suwa­nee, Ga.-based Strate­gic Vi­sion PR Group.

That’s “un­charted ter­ri­tory,” John­son said. And com­pa­nies ac­tu­ally re­spond­ing to such pres­sures in a sub­stan­tive way is a rel­a­tively new thing, too.

“Lots of things hap­pen on so­cial me­dia and we don’t know what the stay­ing power of the is­sue is,” said Sun­dar Bharad­waj, a mar­ket­ing chair at the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia’s Terry Col­lege of Busi­ness. “Now I think com­pa­nies, they’re prob­a­bly look­ing at ‘What’s the stay­ing power of this is­sue?’ and then re­spond­ing.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.