Steak Umm Schools Us About Bottom Line Versus Being Woke

(Sean Steffen/The Amarillo Globe News via AP)

The food company Steak Umm has been doing the Lord’s work on Twitter. My colleague Kira Davis focused on a recent exchange that the steak company had with the pompous “scientist” Neil de Grasse Tyson, where they handed him his dinner on a platter. As Kira noted, it was definitely worth the price of admission.

Foodie that I am, how did I miss this one?

Back in October, the account gave a lesson on business practices of major corporations, and that no matter how “Woke” a company wants to appear, if it’s negatively affecting their bottom line, they’ll get “unWoke” really quick.

In light of the ridiculous posturing by companies over the Georgia voting law, and United Airlines’ recent tweet about diversity in hiring pilots, it is a worthy conversation to revisit.

“even when a brand is on the “right” side of an issue, it’s because choosing that side is providing them value. it’s not good or bad on its own, it’s just self-interest.”

Ahh… So, these Woke corporations who opposed the Georgia law or are apologizing for racism after every bad police shooting are looking toward their self-interest? I am so shocked! Not really.

“brands can influence people to move in any direction, but it will always be tethered to their own bottom line”

Wow. So, this:

And this:

…is just making sure those Asian grocers keep stocking up on Coca-Cola products, and feminists get a warm fuzzy feeling when they hear “United” and keep booking flights?

Pretty much.

Basically, if Coca-Cola or United Airlines sees their bottom line shifting in a southward direction after all this wokeness, you know they’ll quietly table the condemnation of racism, hate, and increased diversity faster than Jen Psaki tables questions. And that “next decade” goal of United’s to train women and/or people of color? It’s just a way to build a wider exit.

Don’t doubt me. The tweet thread continues:

“brands can play a role in normalizing, rejecting, supporting, or ignoring social causes, much like celebrities and institutions. when they market themselves around social causes, they can also overtly or covertly trick consumers into thinking it’s based on principle versus profit”

What is amazing about this tweet is that Steak Umm calls out every company’s motivation. They WANT to influence you. They WANT to modify your behavior—that’s what good marketing is meant to do. But the WHY behind it—profit—is what many corporations (and celebrities) pretend is an incidental, or not their true motivation.

Yeah, I get paid or get righteous PR from appearing in X, but it’s for a good cause!” or “It’s for the common good!” And my personal favorite hackneyed phrase, “it’s for the children!”

Steak Umm bursts that bubble. Principles ≠ Profits, however, Principles < Profit.

We all know it’s true. They just had the stones to say it.

“steak-umm posts about coronavirus and online misinformation because (1) these are universal issues and (2) our audience has rewarded us for our commentary. we might internally think it’s the right thing to do, but if our brand was hurting from it we would either stop or reassess”

Politicians, celebrities, businesses, need to learn from this model. 1) find universal themes that will bring people together, not tear them apart; 2) pay attention to your customer/audience. If people are cringing, complaining, and abandoning your product, you might want to rethink your stance.

See: NBA, any entertainment awards show, and soon, Major League Baseball.

“we try to focus our humanized ads on vague, surface-level subjects that most people can agree on and understand. this includes critical thinking, understanding others, and introspection, with a dash of sass once in awhile if we’re feeling spicy. that’s the ‘steak-umm bless’ ethos”

Back to the universal themes. I’m Black, and I’m getting old, so moisturizers and masks are becoming part of my self-care. However, I could not care less about hearing from Ponds or Aveeno about racial equity and Black Lives Matter. I could not care less about your diversity push to include more women pilots or pilots of color—I care whether your pilot can competently fly a plane. I saw Flight, I have pilot friends—I know what’s at stake.

Competence is a universal concept; What race, sex, or color the pilot is, is so not. United Airlines could learn something from Steak Umm. Maybe where to find a competent marketing team.

“when we remind people that brands do what they do to meat a bottom line, it postures us above the problem, but we aren’t. we’re just using self-aware anti-advertising to invoke transparency because it helps our own bottom line. it’s all circular. that’s the tea

“steak-umm bless”

Honesty… it’s such a lonely word!”, Billy Joel wrote. So far, Steak Umm stands alone in their honesty about what drives their business, and it’s not being WOKE, it’s being smart. If being WOKE sold more steak products, you know they’d be on that train. Maybe one day they will, but we at least know where they stand. If it’s good for business, it’s a good strategy.

One of their followers is feeling me. A thinking human who knows the actual business did Steak Umm’s tweet thread, not some barely pubescent social media drone.

I’m not a regular Steak Umm customer, but I may have to go out and buy me some packages, or even get some of their stock.

I support the bottom line of honesty.