It’s business as usual for food and beverage giants Goya Foods and Red Bull, with the two companies seen to be weathering the hailstorm of criticism and pressure coming from Democrats, celebrities and social media users who have found fault in their recent corporate pronouncements.
Goya Foods, a major manufacturer of canned goods such as beans and grains, dairy, processed meats and other Hispanic staples, recently came under fire after CEO Robert Unanue accepted an invitation to the White House by President Donald Trump to promote the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, a project meant to improve Hispanic American’s access to educational and economic opportunities.
“We are all truly blessed … to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder,” Unanue said in a speech in which he drew comparisons between his grandfather — the founder of Goya Foods — and President Trump.
“That is what my grandfather did. He came to this country to build, to grow, to prosper. We have an incredible builder … and we pray,” Unanue, a third-generation immigrant who hails from a Hispanic family, said.
The blowback for his praise of President Trump was swift: prominent politicians, such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen and John Leguizamo and author Joyce Carol Oates demanded a boycott on the company’s products, with the hashtag “#Goyaway” even making it on Twitter’s top trends.
Julián Castro, a former Democratic presidential candidate who was among the first to call for a boycott on the brand, said that Unanue’s comments were offensive,” pointing out that the latter’s Spanish-American family have “profited mightily from Latinos, the very people that Trump has treated like a piñata for his own political profit” — a reference to several remarks President Trump made throughout the last few years, in which he described Latin peoples as being “rapists,” “criminals” and “drug dealers.” (Related: Cernovich: New York Times shows what will happen ‘if the far left takes power.)
The boycott, however, did not work, with Goya food products seen flying off shelves in response to calls by conservatives to instead stage “buy-cotts,” such as the one organized by conservative radio show host Mike Opelka.
“My brother came up with a terrific idea and I am encouraging all to join me in purchasing $10 worth of Goya Foods products and donating them to your local food bank. Let’s push a BUY-cott, not a boycott. Let’s show the #Goyaway people what compassion can do,” Opelka said.
The “buy-cott” has since been praised by President Trump, who, along with daughter Ivanka, posted photos of them with some of the brand’s flagship products.
.@GoyaFoods is doing GREAT. The Radical Left smear machine backfired, people are buying like crazy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2020
If it’s Goya, it has to be good.
Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno. pic.twitter.com/9tjVrfmo9z
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) July 15, 2020
Unanue, who worked with former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, which encouraged consumers to eat healthily and exercise, has since remained unapologetic and has labeled the backlash as an example of “suppression of speech.”
“I’m not apologizing for saying — and especially when you’re called by the president of the United States — you’re gonna say, ‘No, I’m sorry I’m busy no thank you?’ I didn’t say that to the Obamas and I didn’t say that to President Trump,” Unanue said.
The company, meanwhile, has since donated over two million pounds of food to communities throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico to help COVID-19 relief, as well as 20,000 face masks. It is also planning to donate another one million cans of chickpeas and half a million kilos of other Goya products to the poor.
Energy drink giant fires North American execs, employees describe move as “retaliatory”
Energy drink giant Red Bull, on the other hand, replaced its North American president, Stefan Kozak, and chief marketing officer Amy Taylor — after they purportedly called for more overt support for racial justice from the company.
However, according to insider information gleaned by Business Insider, their firing could be related to an earlier incident in which employees leaked some of the company’s slides which contained offensive and racist material.
The slides, which were presented during a February corporate event, used an offensive world map that showed India as “call centers,” labeled Africa as “zoo animals come from here,” and identified the Middle East as “evil-doers” alongside a note that said, “bombs go here.”
The map also identified Japan as “TVs and cameras,” Australia as “kangaroos” and an oblong landmass that could be Greenland or the Arctic Circle as “Santa!”
According to employees, the executives’ firing could also be retaliatory, noting that some 300 employees sent a letter to the company’s heads questioning them about Red Bull’s “silence” on racial issues, especially since it has often partnered with Black celebrities, as well as launched events catering to a predominantly Black crowd.
Several employees have alleged that Taylor, who spearheaded projects aimed at increasing diversity and inclusivity, often met pushback from CEO Dietrich Mateschitz, as well as other members of the board.
The 76-year-old Mateschitz, an Austrian tycoon with an estimated worth of about USD 26 billion, had previously come under fire for speaking out against political correctness, as well as expressing support for President Trump. He also manages the television station Servus TV which has faced criticism for allowing “right-wing extremists” to appear in its programs.
Red Bull, for its part, has not publicly commented on why Taylor and Kozak have left the company. It did, however, note that Klaass’s departure was a result of “downsizing” within the company.
The company has also addressed claims about racism, noting that it does not tolerate the practice in the workplace.
“Red Bull rejects racism in any form and we do not condone language or behavior that indicates otherwise,” a company spokeswoman said. “We acknowledge we have work to do. We stand with the Black community and we focus on action.”
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