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Hobby Lobby’s Bad Marketing Move

June 30, 2014
Hobby lobby

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Eckhart

Hobby Lobby is a for-profit business, but “religion” and all things that supposedly come with it, have been a big part of its approach since its first store opened in 1972.

When you go to the company’s home page, you’ll see Psalms 33:12, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” posted.

Technically, that has nothing to do with the products Hobby Lobby sells. But the company isn’t afraid to take a stand…

On the front of the “Home Accents” page, you’ll see “I Pray for America” on decorative wood blocks to help buyers “celebrate life in the land of the free.”

Ironically, the blocks are made in China.

It’s all bullshit. Just like Hobby Lobby’s argument that a for-profit employers with religious objections should be able to opt out of contraception coverage under the Affordable Health Care Act was bullshit.

If Hobby Lobby was really about religion, wouldn’t they be involved in similar “religious” issues involving our government? For example, protesting the taxes it pays, which are used to fund wars, because wars violate the moral imperative known as “Thou shalt not kill.”

Or maybe Hobby Lobby would actually be a church, instead of trying to act like one.

The Marketing Lesson

If you say something, you better be able back it up with action.

Hobby Lobby talks a good game, but talk is where the good game ends. For example, the company has $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies which produce emergency contraceptive pills, IUDs, and drugs commonly used in abortions.

Beyond that, as a major buyer of Chinese goods, the company supports a country where abortion is a provided and paid for by the government and a culture which generally accepts and uses sex-selection abortion due to a preference for male children.

Think that’s ridiculous? It’s not. If normal people can avoid “blood diamonds” from countries with military dictatorships and child labor problems, Hobby Lobby could surely avoid goods made in China.

But Chinese goods are cheap. And cheap means greater profits.

People aren’t idiots — customers see right through this. And if they’re not seeing through it yet, they will when Hobby Lobby’s competitors and labor unions get hold of it.

In general, I’ve found people to be very understanding of different cultures and values. Had Hobby Lobby been able to back up its words on this issue with congruent action, I feel most people, even if they didn’t agree with the company’s stance, would have been understanding.

But people hate hypocrites, especially when the hypocrites are trying to tell them how to run their lives.

If you’re going to make a big deal out of something, like taking your case to the United States Supreme Court, if you don’t want to lose customers, you’d better be able to back up what you’re saying.

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Every Monday, I analyze the good, bad, and ugly about the marketing behind a common business or famous personality. See other posts in this series here and, if you have a request for something (or someone) you’d like me to analyze for this series, contact me via Twitter.

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