If you’re one who likes to browse the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine while waiting in line at the supermarket, you’ll need to look somewhere other than Walmart. America’s largest retailer recently announced it will be pulling Cosmo off the shelves of its checkout lines as a show of support for the #MeToo movement.
According to multiple media reports, the move came as a result of the company working with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, which is working to remove Cosmo from thousands of store checkout lines due to the “sexually explicit nature of the magazine.”
Walmart senior director of corporate affairs, Meggan Kring, was quick to add that the magazine will be available in the store, just not at the checkout lane. Meanwhile, Dawn Hawkins, executive director at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, likened Cosmo to Playboy, saying the change was a big step in the right direction, both for Walmart and for the country:
“This is what real change looks like in our #MeToo culture, and NCOSE is proud to work with a major corporation like Walmart to combat sexually exploitative influences in our society… Walmart’s removal of Cosmo from checkout lines is an incremental but significant step toward creating a culture where women and girls are valued as whole persons, rather than as sexual objects”
Cosmo responded through a brief media statement, saying the brand is “proud of all (Cosmopolitan) has achieved for women around the world…”
Women’s magazines like Cosmo, with their “sex and dating tips” articles and airbrushed cover models have long been a primary target for groups like NCOSE. However, those criticisms have largely been relegated to the sidelines in the cultural battles being fought in consumer America. Not anymore. The #MeToo movement began by calling out some of the most powerful men in Hollywood, then spread to other industries. Now, many groups are trying to get some light shed on the work they’ve been doing for decades.
Hawkins and the NCOSE is only one such group hoping to bring about cultural change by leveraging the attention being give the #MeToo in the media. That’s not to say these groups are jumping on any bandwagons. Instead, they are making the smart PR decision to be seen and heard while people are paying attention to an issue they’ve been speaking out about for decades.
The nonprofit PR lesson here is to be prepared to escalate your message and your activity when the opportunity arises. There are many groups who have missed out on their chance to make a difference because they weren’t ready when the time came.