This post is part of our “Story Behind the Story” series, where we dissect online narratives and their impact on some of the biggest consumer brands.
Public Uproar Around Israel-Palestine Conflict
Around the world, a defined shift in public discourse around Israel is unfolding. After 11 days of airstrikes and missile attacks, Israel and Palestine militant groups agreed to a cease-fire following pressure from the United States, Egypt, Qatar, and several European nations. Now, the general public, political figures, activist groups, and companies are increasingly disapproving of Israel’s attacks on Palestine.
As Palestine fades from the headlines in the next days, remember this:— Dena Takruri (@Dena) May 21, 2021
When Palestinians resist occupation violently, they are punished by Israel.
When Palestinians resist occupation nonviolently like through Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions, they are punished by Israel.
Coordinated Groups Calling for Israeli Product Boycotts
The conflict has sparked boycotts aimed at international companies and Israel brands, which factions assert play a role in supporting Israel’s economy and military. Power groups online have already created a “Boycott Israeli Products” list and are pressuring institutions, unions, and companies to boycott or divest in hopes of isolating Israel academically, culturally, economically, and militarily.
These targeted brand attacks and boycott calls aim to put pressure on retailers and suppliers to stop selling products from companies with any connections to Israel.
The highest risk narrative involves factions online building lists of brands to boycott in connection to the situation in Israel. The narrative that is gaining the most traction is one that singles out eight brands: Puma, AXA, HP, Soda Stream, Ahava, Sabra, Pillsbury, and Israeli Produce. Interestingly, a narrative calling for boycotts of a MUCH larger list of brands has been slowing down, with groups online encouraging users to stay focused on the eight aforementioned brands in order to maximize the impact of the boycott Israel campaign. Brands that are connected to the eight, or that appear on the longer list of brands to boycott should at least monitor the trajectory and ongoing evolution of this narrative and the motivated groups behind it.
The latest narrative beginning to trend references the “Buycott” app which can be used to scan products to be told whether it’s one you should buy or boycott.
i just wanted to remind everyone that the official palestine BDS movement only lists a total of 8 brands to boycott (puma, AXA, HP, soda stream, ahava, sabra, pillsbury, israeli produce) to maximize impact !! the other long lists are important but they are NOT the target of BDS!— – (@leftistexe) May 20, 2021
To a lesser extent, companies that are remaining neutral to this issue are also being called out online, with factions citing that they are complicit in the violations of Palestinian rights.
Who is influencing the conversation?
A mix of international factions, all mostly left-leaning politically, are driving this conversation, which is not only speeding up but also becoming increasingly inauthentic.
Some of the factions associated with the narrative are linked to foreign influence and are adept at amplifying narratives to other factions and the general public. Indeed, more than 55 percent of the posts about this narrative were made in the past week, indicating that factions, along with the general public, are becoming more engaged with the narrative recently, and have helped amplify it.
The UK Labour Party faction appears to be working hardest on this narrative. The faction is specifically amplifying posts that outline ways to identify products made in Israel using the number “729” in barcodes. Highlighted brands include Tide, Hugo Boss, Chicos, Barbie, Kleenex, Pampers, Crest, Vicks, Ivory, Glade and many more.
Other factions driving the conversation include the Populist Left, Democratic Socialists of America and Chinese State Media.
The presence of these factions in the conversation is the reason behind the increasing inauthenticity. At least 9 percent of the posts in this conversation being are being published by recently created accounts, and spam accounts make up 24 percent of the overall narrative. For more context on inauthenticity levels, the blended cross-platform baseline is typically less than 17 percent.
How Yonder social intelligence helps protect against faction-driven narratives?
Proactive social intelligence helps your strategic communications team stay on top of emerging narratives that could be damaging to your brand, giving you and your team time to triage, plan, and potentially act. Especially when the conversation is as sensitive as this one, and involves humans rights and warfare discussions, predictive and proactive insights help brands navigate with caution.
Social intelligence helps your team understand how the words and actions of executives, spokespeople, or others who represent your brand could incite factions and give them the opportunity to hijack your platform in order to amplify their own narrative. These insights can also help your brand understand when a narrative is being controlled by a small, but influential group online, but does not represent the opinion or perception of your customer base or the broader population. Knowing this about a narrative can save your team time, money, and lots of energy when you’re not chasing down a narrative or spinning up your entire organization around a plan to counter-message or respond.
Is your brand impacted by this narrative?
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