What should founders and executives do when their brand hits turbulence? How does a leadership team ensure that their own personal convictions and their brand's values remain separate? Do brands like Shopify, the new intermediaries of global digital economy, with unique, singular power, have additional moral and ethical responsibility because of that power? What responsibility does a brand have to its consumers or employees?
Liam Mooney '05, CEO of Jackpine (and a Trent alum) visited CBC TV and CBC Radio to unpack these questions -- couched in the issue of online retailer Shopify's decision to provide service to the controversial, alt-right, news company, Breitbart.
Just last month, Shopify faced online backlash for hosting the extreme right-wing news outlet's online store. Merchandise for sale in the store includes T-shirts emblazoned with “Breitbart Border Patrol,” and “Border Wall Construction Co.” It also sells a shirt with a silhouette of the U.S. and the words "Get in line."
In response to the criticism, Shopify's CEO, Tobias Lütke wrote a letter titled "In support of free speech." In the letter, Lütke outlined why Shopify supports hosting Breitbart's on their platform.
In his interviews, Mooney weighed in on the notion of moral responsibility for major online businesses, the delicate corporate balance between allowing for freedom of speech and being the arbiter for political messaging, and how making decisions on these issues can affect both branding/public perception and sales/revenue. You can listen to the CBC Radio interview here.
Jackpine is a team of brave, open-minded, and engaged individuals with a range of talents and experiences that provide Creative Counsel to organizations. For each client, our core team of designers and strategists works alongside individuals who have expertise specific to your project.
Liam Mooney is the Founder and CEO of Jackpine and a Digital Content Entrepreneurship/Journalism instructor at Carleton University. He has a Political Studies degree from Trent and an MA/Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from the University of Ottawa.