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FamilyMart MY brand sentiments plummet following calls for boycott over Israel links

FamilyMart MY brand sentiments plummet following calls for boycott over Israel links

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The Malaysian branch of popular convenience store FamilyMart has seen its brand sentiments plummet to 72.6% negative and 0.2% positive amidst calls on social media for a boycott of the store. This was due to links between its Japanese parent company Itochu Corporation with Israel-linked defense company Elbit Systems.

This is down from 6.5% positive and 58.2% negative in the month of January before the boycott began, according to media intelligence firm CARMA.

Don't miss: McDonald’s MY aims for 750 outlets by 2030 amidst boycott: Is the plan feasible? 

Addressing the online controversy, FamilyMart Malaysia put up a statement acknowledging that in March 2023, Itochu Aviation, a subsidiary of Itochu Corporation, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nippon Aircraft Supply and Elbit Systems to import defense technologies into Japan for the nation’s national security.

"We have been informed today (5 February) by FamilyMart Co. Japan that Itochu Aviation is terminating the MoU, as per news reports in Japan. The decision is made in support of the Japanese government's support of the recent International Court of Justice order, which includes preventing acts of genocide in the Gaza strip," it said in a statement posted to social media. 

It added that it would like to reiterate its stand that it does not support violence or killing and that FamilyMart Malaysia does not contribute to or donate to or deal with Israel. 

Despite the statement, CARMA noted that the social media word cloud picked up a variety of words associated with Family Mart thus far in February. Some include other brands which are being boycotted such as “Starbucks”, “nestle” and “mcd”. Other words include “Israel”, “military” and “weapons”.

True enough, FamilyMart Malaysia is joining other brands in the country which are being boycotted for links to Israel. Most recently, Gerbang Alaf Restaurants, the local licensee of McDonald's in Malaysia, sued a movement promoting boycotts against Israel for false and defamatory statements for allegedly inciting the public to boycott McDonald's Malaysia which led to a loss of profits and jobs. It claimed that these statements hurt its business and are currently seeking damages amounting to US$1.31 million.

"McDonald's Malaysia wish to confirm that based on external legal advice, we have filed a civil suit against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS Malaysia) to protect our rights and interests in accordance with the law," said McDonald's Malaysia when MARKETING-INTERACTIVE reached out last month. 

"We have been transparent and consistent with our communications that McDonald's Malaysia does not support nor condone the current conflict in the Middle East and like all Malaysians, our utmost sympathies go out to the innocent victims in Gaza," it added. 

In tandem, RHB Group, Malaysia's integrated financial services group reportedly issued a research note advising investors to sell their shares in Starbuck's franchise owner, Berjaya Food. The bank reportedly noted a 24% slip in stock prices. 

The recommendation came after ground checks of Starbucks outlets showed at least a 30% fall in foot traffic. This is despite shopping centres being crowded, and most of Starbucks' competitors having regular footfalls. 

The fall in foot traffic, as RHB noted, is a result of the ongoing boycott of the food and beverage chain due to its alleged support of Israel in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Related articles:
BDS Malaysia brand sentiments plummet as McDonald's sues for boycott damages 
McDonald's MY sues Israel boycott movement for millions in damages 
Investors advised to sell Berjaya Food shares as Starbucks boycott pinches 

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