Thursday, August 07, 2014

Department of small victories

A couple of days ago I started getting the emails from every progressive advocacy outlet around: Walgreens, the big pharmacy chain, was to about to avail itself of a (legal) tax dodge scheme by fictitiously remaking itself into a Swiss company. The omni-present stores weren't going anywhere, just the corporation HQ and the money. Poof, far less U.S. taxes for Walgreens!

Would I boycott if Walgreens went through with the move? Actually, that's not an easy call for me. Walgreens is convenient. But I said "sure" in response to the emails.

Now the same advocacy outfits tell me Walgreens has decided it needs to stay headquartered in the U.S.A. This line from Andrew S Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle is telling:

The company “has ruled out relocating its headquarters from the U.S. for tax purposes ...

“One person close to the matter said Walgreens elected not to pursue an inversion as it calculated that it would face greater scrutiny than others, since it was a consumer facing company,” said the Financial Times.

Consumer agitation and boycotts are particularly well suited to influencing the behavior of companies that spend huge sums aiming to establish brand recognition and brand loyalty. Hurt their precious brand and they hurt.

When used to move brand-invested corporate behavior, boycotts are not just the quixotic gestures of individuals, but authentic campaign tools.

Score one for the consuming public on this round.

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