Will the Georgia Boycott Work?  Listed here are the consequences of financial stress campaigns in different states

Top line

Sports leagues and film producers are pushing back on Georgia’s restrictive new electoral law by threatening to cease operations there, making Georgia the youngest state to face boycott threats – while boycotts at the state level can have economic repercussions, their track record of politically producing are results more mixed:

Protesters from California meet with Arizonans in the state capital building for a demonstration against … [+] Arizona Immigration Enforcement Law SB 1070 on July 29, 2010.

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Key factors

Impact: The state legislature withdrew and partially repealed the bill a year after it was signed. That found a 2017 analysis by the Associated Press that found the boycotts could withhold North Carolina economic activity of over $ 3.76 billion over a 12-year period.

South Carolina, 1999: The NAACP called for a boycott of South Carolina because the state refused to fly the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds, and the NCAA followed suit by refusing to hold tournaments in the state.

Impact: The Confederate flag was not removed from the Capitol until 2015 after a white supremacist killed nine people in Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, despite the boycott likely cost the state millions of dollars in lost business.

Impact: The bill was blocked by a federal judge before it went into effect, preventing entertainment companies from responding to their threats. More than 200 television and film productions in Georgia spent a total of 2.2 billion US dollars in fiscal 2020.

Key background

Experts point out some trends that explain why some boycotts work better than others at the country level. Boycotts rarely cause severe, permanent financial damage to states or corporations, but can damage a target’s image over the long term, says Brayden King, professor at the Kellogg School of Management in the Northwest. Because of this, King believes that boycott campaigns tend to achieve their political goals when lawmakers are concerned about reputational damage. “Nobody wants to turn their state into a pariah place,” said Georgetown economics professor Ed Soule. Also, boycott threats seem to work best when companies can easily move to a new locale, local activists support the effort, and the public remains vigilant after the initial shock has subsided, noted University of North Carolina economics professor Larry Chavis: “In In a way, local champions can stay in the headlines, ”he said.

Crucial quote

“In a landscape where there is a lot of competition for eyes and attention, boycott targets will often wait and see and hope that another event occurs that will grab people’s attention,” King said. “It’s a strategy for dealing with a boycott … At some point, the attention wanes and the reputational threat disappears.”

What to look for

Georgia became the latest boycott target last month when lawmakers passed a list of restrictive new electoral rules that critics have blasted as a form of repression. Will Smith responded by pulling his upcoming film, Emancipation, out of Georgia, the MLB relocating this year’s All-Star Game from Atlanta, and local companies like Delta criticizing the law.


Some activists have rolled back their calls to boycott Georgia, arguing that they are causing economic pain to ordinary Georgians and are unlikely to sway Republican lawmakers. Voting advocate in particular, Stacey Abrams, has urged companies “to stand and fight.”


Georgia-based companies like Delta and Coca-Cola were initially reluctant to clearly oppose the new electoral law, but eventually criticized it. Experts like King and Soule say these companies are likely not taking a stand because they fear consumer setbacks, but rather because they lobby their employees. “The group that seems to have the most impact these days would be the workforce,” said Soule.

further reading

Will Smith film ‘Emancipation’ leaves Georgia due to voting restrictions – see full boycott list (Forbes)

“Stay And Fight”: Stacey Abrams Says Corporations Should Not Boycott Georgia Over Voting Restrictions (Forbes)