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Fake news spurs Trump backers to boycott PepsiCo

The newest Pepsi challenge? Dealing with a consumer boycott based on fake reports about its CEO’s alleged views on Trump. 

Trump supporters are vowing to snub PepsiCo (PEP) products ranging from Doritos to Tropicana because of false reports that CEO Indra Nooyi told Americans who voted for him to “take their business elsewhere.” The claim is false, according to rumor debunking site Snopes.com. Reports of her comments are circulating on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, with users posting articles from conservative blogs and websites. 

The boycott comes amid rising concern about the spread of false reports from bogus news sites and how they may have impacted the election. BuzzFeed News concluded that fake clickbait headlines drew more readers than real articles during the last three months of campaign coverage. 

Although Nooyi did address the election results in an interview with New York Times writer Andrew Ross Sorkin, she congratulated Trump on his victory (see the interview below). But the executive noted that some of her employees had expressed concern about their civil rights following the campaign, which included Trump’s boasts about sexual assault.

“I don’t think there’s a place for that kind of language in any part of society -- not in locker rooms, not in football players’ homes, not in any place,” Nooyi said. “And, if we don’t nip it in the bud, Andrew, this is going to be lethal force that’s going to take over society.”

She added, “The process of democracy happened. We just need to let life go on.”

PepsiCo didn’t immediately return a request for comment. 

DealBook 2016: A Conversation with Indra Nooyi by The New York Times Conferences on YouTube

As evidence emerges about the role of deceptive and fake reports on social media, Google and Facebook both said they would restrict ads from fake news sites, cutting off their sources of revenue. 

The fake reports about PepsiCo were widespread on Twitter as of Thursday morning. Trump supporters also claimed that PepsiCo’s recent decline in its share price is tied to their grassroots campaign, although a dip came after several cities and counties approved soda taxes in November, which is viewed as negative for the soda industry

PepsiCo isn’t the only consumer brand to face the ire of Trump supporters. GrubHub is facing condemnation from Trump voters after its CEO condemned bigoted views following the election. The food-delivery service’s chief executive, Matt Maloney, has denied reports that he suggested employees who hold racist or anti-immigrant views resign from the firm. 

Other brands Trump supporters are vowing to boycott include Macy’s, Oreos, Amazon.com, Dell, the NFL, Netflix, Ben & Jerry’s and Starbucks, according to a Reddit thread that is keeping a tally. The list also includes those brands they believe should be supported, such as New Balance. An executive at the shoe company recently said that it believed the country would “move in the right direction” under Trump’s presidency

Interestingly, the pro-Trump boycott has some overlap with the anti-Trump #GrabYourWallet movement, which has asked consumers who don’t agree with Trump’s policies to stop shopping at companies that sell Trump-related items. Those include Amazon.com and Macy’s, which are also on the Trump-supporters’ list of corporations to avoid patronizing. 

Yet the #GrabYourWallet campaign has a goal that’s wider than simply registering protest against Trump’s policies. It also seeks to highlight the unusual conflicts of interest that have been created by Trump’s victory. 

Specifically, the campaign’s supporters point to Ivanka Trump’s hawking of her clothing and jewelry after appearing on TV or in campaign events in support of her father, which co-founder Shannon Coulter told CBS MoneyWatch is an example of Ivanka Trump’s “crass commercialism.”

For corporations caught in the crossfire, it shows that treading into politics can be an unprofitable proposition.