Is My Pillow being ‘cancelled’ or is its CEO trashing the business all on his own?

Discussion
Photo: Facebook/Michael J Lindell
Jan 20, 2021

Mike Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, who gained fame hawking his company’s products on television, is becoming notorious for promoting election conspiracy theories even after the U.S. Capitol Building was attacked on Jan. 6 by supporters of President Trump who failed in their attempt to delay or overturn the certified results of the election in November.

The attention that Mr. Lindell has garnered of late has prompted decisions by Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s, H-E-B, Wayfair and other retailers to end sales of My Pillow in stores and online once current supplies are gone. While most have not commented publicly on the matter, retailers typically point to underperforming sales as the primary factor in decisions to delist. Amazon.com and Walmart continue to sell My Pillow products based on searches of their respective sites.

The My Pillow CEO in an interview with Right Side Broadcasting, which streams pro-Trump content on its YouTube channel, asserted that liberals have repeatedly tried to silence him by attempting to organize boycotts of his company. He decried what he views as the cancel culture at work and suggested that retailers no longer ordering products from his company were making a mistake. He said that sales have consistently risen every time he and My Pillow have come under attack based on his political statements.

Mr. Lindell’s has continued to assert, even in the wake of the Capitol Building attack which left one police officer dead and many others injured, that the election was stolen from Mr. Trump. His promotion of election conspiracy theories is notable in its contrast to the vast majority of high profile business leaders in the retail industry who have condemned what they saw as an attack on American democracy.

The My Pillow CEO also faces potential legal issues in addition to lost retail accounts. NBC News has reported that Dominion Voting Systems, one of the largest manufacturers of election equipment in the U.S., has threatened to sue Mr. Lindell over his claims that disparage the company.

“You have failed to identify a scintilla of credible evidence that even suggests that Dominion is somehow involved in a global conspiracy to harvest millions of votes in favor of President-elect Biden,” according to the letter. “Of course, this is because no such evidence exists.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think the retailers that are delisting My Pillow would do so if items from the line were top sellers? Is Mike Lindell’s continuing attempts to discredit the results of Joe Biden’s election victory likely to help or hurt My Pillow’s success going forward?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"This is the risk all CEOs assume when they take public positions on cultural issues. Whether they like it or not, their speech reflects on their company and brands."
"There are no shortage of “miracle” pillows out there. There’s no reason for merchants to put their brand at risk over one small brand that is easily replaced."
"Mr. Lindell might have offered us a counter argument to the adage that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”"

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34 Comments on "Is My Pillow being ‘cancelled’ or is its CEO trashing the business all on his own?"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Regardless of sales, retailers have a right to stock or delist products for whatever reason. That includes brands that are associated with causes and issues they find distasteful. In the case of Mike Lindell, he has said some pretty outrageous things. That is his prerogative and no one should stop him from speaking his mind. However he cannot complain if those views have an impact on his business. In any case, My Pillow makes a lot of direct sales and anyone that wants the brand or wants to show support for Mr. Lindell by buying his products will still be able to do so.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

You covered the pro, the con, and the undecided. Enough said.

Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

This is a an example of how overt political positions can really impact your business and brand. Had there not been controversy about Mike Lindell and his extreme views, I doubt that we would know his name. Mr. Lindell is entitled to his views and as the Founder/CEO of his company, it’s his right to express these views through his company. However if you take strong positions then you need to be prepared for the fallout, and that’s what Lindell is now facing. Ultimately, I believe that this exposure will hurt My Pillow’s success going forward.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

Who knew that discussing the Insurrection Act and martial law with the President might have economic consequences for Lindell’s business?

David Leibowitz
BrainTrust

Who doesn’t love a good pillow fight?

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

Maybe the line of the month, David 🙂

Zach Zalowitz
BrainTrust

He has every right, as an American, to freedom of speech so long as it doesn’t incite violence. The retailers have every right to do what they feel is best to protect their brands. There’s no “cancelling” going on here. Take another example, Justin Thomas the golfer. He said a slur against gays the other day at a tournament, and Ralph Lauren dropped him as a spokesperson. Nike has done the same with other athletes that haven’t acted up to snuff integrity-wise. I’d consider lying about fraud in an election as a low-integrity move, so they’re well within their rights (however large his sales might be) to drop his products. By the way, we’re talking pillows here, a commodity item. I’m sure Bed Bath & Beyond will be fine…

Kevin Graff
BrainTrust

Mr. Lindell is free to say what he wants (no matter how crazy it may sound to some!), and retailers are free to carry the brands they want. I recall a few years back slamming a retailer for poor execution of their brand — needless to say they haven’t hired my services since. Top selling items get delisted for various reasons (e.g., guns at various chains). It’s more important than ever for retailers to stand up for their values. You can no longer be in business just to make money.

Joan Treistman
BrainTrust

Mike Lindell has inserted himself into a highly toxic political arena. The Better Business Bureau has received complaints about the product and its price promotions, but the My Pillow company doesn’t recognize the BBB as a legitimate organization. So what are retailers and consumers to do? The answer, it seems, is playing out in real time. As to the specific question about “what if” My Pillow items were top sellers for the retailers — I don’t think it’s a big worry. There are many pillows options available in each of the retailers who want to drop the brand. And each store has many other items that are promoted as therapeutic, comfortable and providing a good night’s sleep. We’ll see the ultimate impact when we learn about sales curves for the brand at Amazon and Walmart. Will shoppers search out the brand or recalibrate their criteria for pillows?

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

What Lindell did was cause the retailers to look closer at his business and question if the rate of sales were worth it. It is likely they weren’t.

Politics aside, Lindell is hardly a standup guy. His company recorded one of the lowest BBB ratings in history and it lost its accreditation. I am quite sure that is he continually cheats his DTC customers without concern, and that he is also a headache to his retail customers.

His political positions increased his profile and forced the retailers to look at his business. That was his mistake.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

Yes, Mike Lindell is reaping the rewards of a “cancel culture” — but he asked for them. This is the risk all CEOs assume when they take public positions on cultural issues. Whether they like it or not, their speech reflects on their company and brands. Many cheer this behavior today, but only when the opinions and actions support their definition of “the right side.” And eventually everyone is on the “wrong side” sometime. The CEOs and retailers making these decisions to speak out or to delist brands associated with unpopular opinion have every right to do so. That’s capitalism and freedom at work in America. But is it also a cancel culture that engenders those actions? Absolutely. Most are familiar with the adage “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” That thinking is used to justify violence and punitive action. I think you could substitute “cancel culture” and “social justice” and sum up this situation pretty well to describe how our society is viewing freedom of speech and diversity of opinion.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

Brands are always on trial. In this case, My Pillow has been found guilty!

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

The good news is that in a week, no one will even remember this. Three possibilities here – nobody wants to be associated with his ideas, his products aren’t selling that well in stores, and/or he’s made it toxic for a store to carry his products even if they are selling well.

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust
  1. I do not believe My Pillow’s CEO did not anticipate the fallout;
  2. As a CEO he is responsible for his actions and their impact;
  3. Objectively speaking, he is promoting falsehoods;
  4. All businesses involved are private enterprises and concerns about infringement on First Amendment rights do not apply.

    My belief is that he knows what he is doing and expected this outcome. The calculus is that the benefits outweigh the negative consequences. He may be seeing a tremendous increase in sales with free publicity and sympathies from nearly 50 percent of the population. Polarization sometimes does help businesses. It helps clarify the brand image and perception.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Every brand needs a clear identity. Unfortunately, Mr. Lindell’s brand took one scary turn, with obvious consequences.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust
Mr. Lindell is no stranger to controversy. His business practices have come under scrutiny from the BBB for a long time. From a business perspective the damage he’s doing to his brand is 100 percent of his own doing. His is a one product business. Mr. Lindell has tied his personality and image with that brand. Sadly he has also extended his personal brand, on his own, to be one of the faces of insurrection. He’s not just questioning votes, he was openly supporting martial law. Which means no consumer who pays any attention to the news will ever be able to look at one of his pillows on the shelf (all which have his face on the packaging) and not have an immediate reaction, either pro or con. As a business person I would think the last thing you want to do is make the purchase decision for your product a political statement. That’s what he’s done and his business will suffer from it. One a side note, I’m not surprised that the pillows… Read more »
Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

Anyone that takes a strong public position on anything is at risk of backlash. When they are “ordinary citizens” protesting an injustice or perceived injustice, the backlash is essentially at a personal level but may include losing a job or having their local business boycotted, even animosity from friends/neighbors. When they are a public figure like a Colin Kaepernick, the backlash is the same, but at a larger and even more intense scale. Lindell knew the risks he was taking to himself and his business by verbalizing his positions or, if he didn’t, that says volumes.

There are no shortage of “miracle” pillows out there. There’s no reason for merchants to put their brand at risk over one small brand that is easily replaced.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

What ever position CEOs take on political, societal, or cultural issues will carry consequences in the eyes of consumers. If Mr. Lindell wishes to continue speaking out as he has been doing, then he should be prepared for the consequences from consumers and the retailers that carry his products. His words carry over to his company’s brand whether he likes it or not. Retailers that do not want to be associated with a brand espousing beliefs they don’t agree with are entitled to take action to delist those products to protect their own brand. It’s that simple.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

There is a lot of passion today. We’ve all got it. Mike is a bright business leader, and I admire him and his success. And I admire his truthfulness. But perhaps there are channels outside of our business that are more appropriate venues to discuss one’s thoughts and feelings. He had to know he would have blowback.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

Sorry, Rich, but I have to call out your use of the word “truthfulness” since Mr. Lindell’s recent behavior exhibited the opposite. I also want to point out to panelists that Mr. Lindell is interested in running for the Senate from Minnesota in 2022, so he may have political ambitions beyond the selling of pillows.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

He’s actually talking about running for Governor from what I’ve read in the Star Tribune.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Truthfulness? Check out his BBB rating, earned before he got into the political wheelhouse.

Bob Andersen
Guest

Mr. Lindell likes to pride himself as having risen up after his crack addiction – which he did. But now he has to live with his new description, “from crackhead to crackpot.”

If his business tanks, he has plenty of inventory to cry into.