NRA Supporters Are Destroying YETI Tumblers in Protest, and It Could Affect the Promo Industry
YETI has come under fire recently after the National Rifle Association claimed that the brand, famous for its coolers, had abruptly cut ties with the organization. While the facts are a bit more complicated (YETI ended a discount program with the NRA and a number of other companies and organizations, while offering an updated customization program), the NRA’s claim was enough to make supporters resort to extremes.
— The Hill (@thehill) April 24, 2018
By responding this way, NRA members and supporters are doing more than just displaying a fervent devotion to their perception of the Second Amendment. Though a symptom of this widespread distaste for disagreement, their anger poses a few scenarios—both positive and negative—for the promotional products industry. Depending on how the backlash plays out, and if YETI is forced to make amends with the NRA, it could affect how promo companies do business, particularly when it comes to the sale of branded tumblers.
While YETI is notoriously unafraid of legal battles, it may see itself in a bind here. As a favorite brand among outdoor enthusiasts, and hunters and fishers especially, YETI may not want to distance itself from the NRA and its supporters, who constitute a small but vocal minority in the U.S. As far as their tumblers are concerned, videos of people shooting them and sawing them in half cannot be good for business, especially since the company brands its goods as durable or even indestructible.
This tumbler destruction could pose a minor problem for the promo industry. While YETI has kept its products to itself, offering customized versions only through its own website, the immense popularity of the product has filtered down to promo, with clients routinely asking distributors for YETI or YETI-like products. It's possible the recent backlash could lead to a dip in tumbler interest, in general, if brands looking for promotional drinkware choose to avoid tumblers (YETI-branded or otherwise) as a means of avoiding the current controversy.
However, the opposite could also occur, leading to a boost in tumbler sales for promotional drinkware businesses that currently compete with YETI. If YETI loses favor with a large chunk of end-users, it could elevate the profile of other drinkware brands and styles. YETI has even threatened legal action against some promotional products companies for what it deems to be copyright infringement, while also claiming that other businesses have been using keywords including the name "YETI" and "Rambler" (the name of its most popular tumbler) in order to sell their products. If this YETI-focused outrage persists, it may relieve some pressure on the promotional industry as a whole, while loosening YETI’s grip on tumbler sales in the process.
Whatever happens, it can’t be denied that the ritual destruction of its tumblers has YETI scurrying to enact some form of damage control. We’ll keep you updated as this situation progresses. In the meantime, just remember: Please don’t fire live ammunition at a metal cup. That’s just plain dangerous.