Boycott Trends: Immigration, Target, NFL, and Jim Beam

Boycotts come and go. Some gain strength while others become peer pressure activities with no real consequence or action. One potential boycott materialized this week with Mila Kunis on Conan O’Brien. “Bad Moms” star, Mila Kunis, revealed she has been trolling Mike Pence by making anonymous donations in his name to Planned Parenthood. Mila is the face of Jim Beam commercials so some US consumers “shouted” they would stop buying Jim Beam whiskey.

I thought this was a good time we could use public data, via Google Trends and Trendsmap, to look at the potential impact of “MilaBeam” and other boycotts that have had exceptional impacts to our culture.

US Trends

Google Trends would indicate the search of “boycott” since 2004 reached its highest levels in February 2017, April/May 2006, May 2010, April 2016, and September 2017. High volume for the term is fairly consistent outside of the peaks. This likely relates to constant search volume for the Montgomery Bus Boycott that is a key learning period in US history with Rosa Parks.

boycott trends us 2004 to present

April/May 2006

May 1 was all about immigration. This was mostly driven by immigration issues in California and North Carolina. It was also coined the Great American Boycott to represent a one day boycott of US schools and businesses by immigrants in the United States. The date was selected to coincide with International Workers Day.

immigration map 2006

May 2010 – Arizona & Arizona Iced Tea

May 2010 also related to immigration but perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is how Arizona Iced Tea makes its way into the search activity and discussion. Arizona instituted a new immigration law and opponents called for a boycott of Arizona Iced Tea. Only problem is Arizona Iced Tea is brewed in New York State.

arizona boycott map

April 2016 – Target

The Target Boycott appeared in late April 2016 (April 19th) due to Target’s announcement of allowing transgender people to use any bathroom or fitting room. In May 2016, Target indicated the boycott had no measurable impact on business. Investors have questioned this more in 2017.

It appears that this is a national impact although a few states stand out as having higher interest than the norm. Target’s headquarters are in Minnesota and the boycott relates to a bill signed in North Carolina forcing people to use the bathroom related to the sex on their birth certificate.

states list boycotts

It would appear the search volume had a 3 month severe impact but has also lasted into 2017 compared to having zero volume before the policy change.

target trend 2016

Backing up Target Boycotts through 2004 shows they also had a issues back in 2010 but only close to a quarter of the current volume. Interestingly enough it relates to pro gay rights for a political contribution Target made endorsing a candidate in Minnesota.

target trend going back

January & February 2017 – Inauguration & Hawaii

The February 2017 spike relates to a federal court in Hawaii placing a nationwide hold on Trump’s revised travel ban. #boycotthawaii started to trend. It was an active period as Trump supporters also started a #boycottnordstrom trend after they dropped Ivanka Trump’s clothing.

We won’t go to in depth with the inauguration boycott discussion but it is certainly one of the most talked about boycotts since 2004 in the US.

September 2017 – NFL

This started to peak the week of September 24th relating to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. While this has died down from September, it hasn’t yet reached normal levels prior to September. Many have related the recent public disgust to declining NFL ratings. It would appear that many out of market states have had the most activity related to the NFL boycott with Wyoming, Montana, Hawaii, and Mississippi near the top. But states with teams also show near the top: Louisiana, Tennessee, and Maryland.

nfl boycott trend

Recent Activity

Recent activity on Twitter shows the highest volume in Kenya related to opposition “resistance” to their recent election. #resist is trending on Twitter as one of the top hashtags. Conversion proportion is highest in Kenya and Nairobi easily has the highest volume of tweets.

worldwide boycott trend recent

worldwide cities

#resist is trending across the world related to Kenya in addition to #firehannity and #boycottnfl

hashtags boycott world

If we drill into the US, words used the most with boycott continue to include the NFL and Trump. Looks like Jim Beam made the list here over the last two weeks. It will be one to watch.

word frequency boycott recent

Jim Beam Boycott

Comparing the Jim Beam boycott with the NFL Boycott (a trending topic) it would appear the Jim Beam boycott is much less impactful on Twitter. A few things to consider this in more context though: 1) is Twitter a representative audience of Jim Beam drinkers? 2) wouldn’t the NFL already have a much larger audience than Jim Beam so this is to be expected? So is the Jim Beam boycott really bigger than it would appear?

Tweets related to Jim Beam boycott and NFL Boycott

jim beam vs nfl trend


Jim Beam search activity, via Google Trends, has doubled in the last week compared to the norm.

jim beam 90 day trend

This is primarily coming from Kentucky, the home state of Jim Beam.

kentucky jim beam map

Tweets related to the Jim Beam boycott are more widespread in the US but more heavily concentrated in Wyoming, Idaho, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arizona, and Indiana. Definitely a tricky situation to step into since both sides can be very outspoken and influential in spend. We’ll see how this one develops over time!

us map jim beam


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