A very worthwhile discussion at The Washington Post about the meaning of free speech and corporate unwillingness to be associated with dissent. Marketers should acknowledge that their refusal to take a stand isn’t taking a stand, that backing away from their country and customers’ discussion of controversial issues makes the company a weaker participant across the entire range of engagements. Positive actions, including taking a stand against art that is objectionable, make impressions more powerful than those created by refraining to fund institutions they have previously supported with no detailed explanations.
Corporations seeking to protect their reputations from hordes of complaining consumers may not examine art this deeply or carefully. From a corporate perspective, support for the arts is generally meant to jazz up the bland images of giant companies and to suggest that they have a civic function beyond merely extracting money from their customers. But if the only art that businesses such as Delta and Bank of America are willing to support is bland to the point of meaninglessness, their timidity merely reinf