Most traditional forms of non-cooperation can loosely be called boycotting. Producer boycotts refer specifically to the act of refraining from buying from a certain producer. The success of this concerted effort is largely dependent on the level of public outrage on a certain issue, and the credibility of the person calling for this campaign. Modern efforts, that generate enough media attention, can create PR problems in addition to affecting revenue. A well conducted campaign can bring attention to the sponsors of the effort as well as the cause. This will gain more visibility to an organizations ongoing effort.
Modern effective boycotts are usually demanding a short term decision by a producer. Anti-producer campaigns against media outfits tend to be effective when asking for someone to be disciplined for comments that offend a certain group. Two examples are Imus in the Morning that got immediately cut from the air after racist comments he made, and Bill Mahrer who offended the military. Less affected are companies like Nike and others that have been frequently targeted for non-specific boycotts. These companies have been able to absorb the effect of actions against them as inconvenient cost of doing business.
Often, a boycott is kicked off by a catalyst. This is an event that can bring attention to the cause and, at the same time, single out a target for the non-violent economic attack. A catalyst can be an incidence of truly atrocious behavior by the target of the boycott, or it can be an action that the offending producer has done that can be singled out and spun as atrocious. The trick to getting traction with the latter is to make a truthful yet alternate interpretation of the producer’s actions, and show valid negative consequences as a result. Many big production companies are quite good at avoiding bad spin. For a boycott to be effective, it must be genuine. A campaign will be more effective focusing on the galvanizing event to find the target, rather than to focus on a target and then find objectionable behavior.
Some activist groups would like to use a producers’ boycott as part of a well coordinated, highly promoted, nonviolent attack on a company, government or organization. These types of campaigns are usually only effective within the community that supports the cause. A pre-planned boycott that waits for an incident and launches quickly can ride the tide of media attention. This will benefit organizations greatly and hurt producers.
Continue reading the 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action.