Lighting appears not to have struck twice with David Hogg’s call for a boycott of investment management companies Vanguard Group and BlackRock over their investment in gun manufacturers.
Unlike his call to boycott sponsors of Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show, which quickly went viral and led to more than two dozen companies to withdraw ads from “The Ingraham Angle,” the Parkland school shooting survivor and student activist hasn’t gained nearly as much traction at either firm since his tweet last Wednesday.
“No high-profile clients that I can think of left BlackRock as a result of it,” one BlackRock employee told TheWrap. “It’s definitely not water-cooler talk.”
At Vanguard, one company employee told TheWrap, the situation “remains kind of the same as what it has been in previous months.”
And while Vanguard has noted that its investment options include an FTSE Social Index Fund that specifically “excludes gun manufacturers,” the company insider said there had been no noticeable increase in requests for that fund in the last week.
In a client update sent days before Hogg’s boycott, BlackRock said it was reevaluating its holdings in firearm makers and “meeting with the leaders of gun manufacturers and distributors” in response to customer interest in the wake of the Parkland massacre.
Reps for BlackRock and Vanguard did not respond to multiple requests for comment from TheWrap. Hogg also has not responded to requests for comment.
As of Wednesday morning, Hogg’s Vanguard/BlackRock boycott tweet last Wednesday had received approximately 3,600 retweets and 6,800 comments. In Internet parlance, the tweet was ratioed — a widely used measure of internet disapproval which occurs when the number of comments on a tweet exceeds the number of retweets.
Even so, there’s no denying the 17-year-old’s reach and influence on social media. Hogg’s first tweet calling for a boycott of Ingraham — prompted by the host’s mocking him for getting rejected by California colleges to which he had applied — has netted around 11,800 retweets and just 3,100 comments.
A followup tweet listing 13 top Ingraham sponsors has generated nearly 56,000 retweets — and prompted nine of the named companies to publicly announce they’d stop advertising on her show, many in the first 24 hours after his first tweet.
In many ways, Hogg’s second boycott was a long shot for Ingraham-size impact because mega-investment companies like Vanguard and BlackRock manage more than $5 trillion in assets and are much harder to influence than TV networks or controversy-averse advertisers.
In addition, while consumers can phone or email or tweet complaints directly to networks or their sponsors, they often have less direct access or influence over their investment funds — which are often dictated by their employers.
“Fox is a target with a built-in audience of ‘haters,’ people that have been yelling at the TV for years,” former Mediaite and Independent Journal Review managing editor Jon Nicosia told TheWrap. As the instantaneous response to the Ingraham tweet proved, added, “They mobilize quickly when there is a chance to take on Fox.”
Nicosia also noted that CNN and MSNBC had a vested interest in giving oxygen to the Fox News boycott — something that isn’t the case with Vanguard and BlackRock.