Standing Up or Standing Aside? How Brands Should Respond to Boycotts with Yoni Golan, former Keshet

Show notes

Rightfully so, since then Israel entered a war against Hamas to eradicate this terrorist organization, rescue the hostages, and make sure this does not happen ever again.

Following this, we saw a rise in antisemitism worldwide and even calls to boycott Israeli brands or Israeli-funded brands.

Whether it is McDonald’s or Nokia, brands are caught in the crossfire.

Israeli or not — this raises a larger discussion: how should brands handle this behavior and how should they communicate when facing boycott?

This is what we discuss on this fascinating episode with special guest Yoni Golan, former head of innovation at Keshet (the major media news outlet), now content creator at ⁠⁠.

Connect here ⁠⁠⁠👇🏽⁠⁠⁠

Reference links


This episode only represents the speakers’s opinions and personal thoughts.



Hi, this is the Brand Runner Podcast where we discuss brand-building, marketing trends and tech. On October 7th, the terrorist organization Hamas entered Israel’s ground and committed crimes against humanity. Rightfully so, since then, Israel entered a war against Hamas to eradicate this terrorist organization, rescue the hostages and make sure that this does not ever happen again. Following these events, we saw a frightening rise of anti-Semitism worldwide. From pro-Palestinian protests,


to violent aggression against Jews, and even the Mc and David tags in France, it feels a lot like we’re back in the 1940s all over again. Not really understanding the events and their implications, a lot of people are currently protesting against Israel and even boycotting companies that support Israel, Israeli brands, and Israel-funded brands. Brands are caught in a crossfire. Israeli or not, how should brands handle this behavior and how should they communicate when facing boycott?


To discuss this topic, I have a special guest on the show today, my friend, Yoni Golan. Yoni Golan is a former head of innovation and digital video at Keshet, the major media and news outlet. And now, Yoni Golan is a colleague at and is a content creator, creating a lot of cool tartar ship pieces, raising brand awareness for the company. Hi, Yoni. Hi, Fabien. It’s such a pleasure to have you on the show. Same here. Can’t wait for you to share your wisdom on all this.


We always have great conversation in the office and now on this pod. As I mentioned with the recent events, we see a lot of so-called activists brokering brands that support or are funded by Israel, including major brands like Disney, Starbucks, or McDonald’s. I will start by saying that I read that there are currently no international brands that have publicly supported Palestine while other brands just don’t seem to say much. But on the other end, I saw the request to all Muslim communities to ban


All these well-supported or funded brands or products, and you have brands like Unilever, Kraft, Nestle, McDonald’s, Nokia, or even Carrefour and so on. So it’s a little bit unconceivable because in the end we’re talking about a lot of major worldwide groups. So my first question to you, Yannick Golan, is should brands express an opinion one way or another? It’s a really good question, but what I feel is brands…


are in a very tough spot today. No matter what they do, it’s really hard to get it right. Because whatever you say, there’s two sides, sometimes even more to the coin. So if you say something going that way, you’ll get a pushback from that side. You say something like that. The other way, you’ll get a pushback from the other side. So what I feel is that


Brands should only address political matters or specifically the war in Israel. Brands should only address that if they have a direct interaction with the situation. Meaning Coca-Cola shouldn’t say anything like…


their best bet is to just sit quiet. It’s like saying, okay, this is not my business. I’m in the business of making drinks. I’m not in the business of saying who’s right and who’s wrong in any topic. So, and brands that are actually involved, I’m trying to think of a good example, but brands that are, let’s say, brands that have


immediate contact with what’s happening, they might act differently. We saw a very interesting example of the guy who runs Web Summit from the company that he works for, that he owns. He was right off the bat saying…


Palestinians are the victim and Israel is the oppressor. And eventually he got a really, really strong pushback from the tech community, specifically Israeli, but also worldwide. And apparently he should have kept his mouth shut. He should have just say, okay, I’m not a geopolitical genius. I don’t know all the information. And why should I weigh in?


in something that is not my business. And I think generally speaking, that’s how brands should consider it. They should not, and I’m not talking just about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I’m talking in general. Why, unless you have, unless you’re affected as a brand from the situation, you know, don’t say anything. It’s like…


especially in these times where it’s like, where everything is, everybody’s so touchy about everything and everything can turn into a, a political event, you know? So that’s, that’s what I feel. Feels like these days, a lot of people are considering themselves geopolitical experts. You know, that’s true. But I feel that this time it’s different because it’s not political.


It’s not just political. People need to look at the facts and not to trust but to verify the facts. You know, and you know, it seems there are people, there’s a lot of disinformation going on. And regardless of what political party you’re in, what happened on October 7th is a thousand percent unacceptable and period, you know. So if such behavior is not sanctioned immediately at the international level, which is, you know, what it’s an issue when you look at what’s happening with the


for such terrorist organizations and dictatorship states, and eventually will jeopardize the future of democracy. So if you’re a company, that means you’re a little bit capitalist, in a broad sense. And if that’s so, that means you’re supporting democracy also in some extent. So not taking a stance against this and having zero tolerance against anti-Semitism and terrorists advocating is basically saying it’s okay, and shooting yourself and other brands in the foot in the long run.


Okay, so I think you mixed a couple of things, because terrorism and anti-terrorism and anti-Semitic stuff is two different things. I think that at the end of the day, when you look at a brand, specifically a public brand,


And if it’s in the stock market, if it’s a brand, the brand has, the company has a few loyalties when you look at it, right? It’s got a loyalty to the customers, right? And they need to do right by the customers. But they also have a loyalty towards the stakeholders and the people actually have the stock.


If you are now a CEO of a public company and you decide to go out and support whatever side you decide to support in whatever conflict and the consequence is that the stock will be affected negatively, then you’re not doing your job towards the…


towards your stakeholders. You’re jeopardizing the money that your stakeholders put into your company, be it investors or be it just the regular people who bought your stock. And that way you’re doing them wrong. And it’s like you’re not being loyal to them.


So it’s different with a private company, because a private company, you know, if it’s a private company, then the CEO, the founder or whatever he is, is like, you can say, okay, that’s my money, that’s my thing, I can do whatever I want. A public company is very different. And again, I think like, there’s, when you talk about antisemitic actions or antisemitic stuff that’s going on in the world, that’s, I think, I think if you look at,


Most brands, it’s really easy. It’s really easy to say, no, I’m against antisemitism in whatever shape or form. On the geopolitical, on the war, which side is correct? Which side has, I don’t know, which side is right? It’s kind of, it’s more of a gray area that that’s where you should be, I think where brands should be.


more careful about going into. And I’m not saying, I’m saying that if you’re an Israeli brand, sure, you need to say something, because you’re an Israeli brand. But if you’re not an Israeli brand, if you’re just an Irish brand or whatever, an American brand, I don’t see the point of weighing in. Just to backtrack just for a second on something you said. Yes, of course, public companies.


are liable for the result they provide for investment and stuff. But like I was more thinking at, if you look at the medium slash long term thing, this is something we saw in the past, like in all the big historical crisis. If you think about what happened in Russia with communism, if you look at what happened with Iran, all those extremist things that happened took over not free trade because it’s not exactly that, but but you had businesses that could do businesses and they took over everything. Right. And this like you see.


And like, you know, we always hear those days about what’s happening in Israel. It’s happening now because we are the frontline. They are right here, right? And then we see like what’s happening with ISIS in the rest of the world. It’s like, you know, we hear that this is the next step. So if it’s being normalized, you know, from a societal standpoint, then on the long run, like what can happen? Yeah. So what you’re saying is that being public has two sides. Being public is also being…


having a responsibility towards the public in general and towards the world. In some extent, because a lot of companies and a lot of big companies have to be thought leaders, so they have to be able to also educate beyond the product, right? Yes. I agree to a certain extent. I was looking at it from a point of view of the brand. Should a brand engage in…


and saying something political or taking a stance towards, a moral stance towards something. And I think that it’s a really tough call, but if I was the one running the brand, I would say, no, let’s not get into it. But I do see your point of taking responsibility of the future.


in general, the humanities future or whatever. And when you see we are at a point, I’m talking about globally, we are at a point, a very crucial point where you can see I don’t want to be, you know, I don’t want to be kind of doom and gloom, right? Like, but there’s a chance that this is the start of a third world war, kind of.


It’s on a very low fire at the moment, but it could develop in a couple of weeks into a global conflict. And yes, I see a point of like Brand saying, okay, I have a responsibility because I’m so big and because I’m so influential.


governments have, the power of the government has diminished and the power of the brand and the power of big corporations, global corporations, is now maybe more powerful than the countries, than the governments themselves. Like when you look at Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg or…


Satya Nadella or whatever those are Sundar Pichai, all those CEOs now hold the power, a much greater power when you compare it to governments or the European Union or the United States government. Those corporations now hold a much bigger power than ever before in history. You can argue that basically they run the show more than…


government themselves. So yes, and in that sense, companies, brands have, I don’t want to say obligation, but have a moral obligation to kind of weigh in and say, okay, this is what I believe, this is wrong and this is right. But from a more practical point of view, for them, it’s not always the right thing to do.


But I it doesn’t that’s like I separate that my personal opinion is that If they would do that, that’s amazing. That’s amazing. That’s that’s wonderful if Microsoft or Google or Amazon would weigh in and say we condemn That kind of violence then great I don’t I’m not sure they


they see themselves as, or as, as, uh, they don’t see it as their job to do that. With so many pro-Palestine marchers calling for a ceasefire, should pro-Israeli brands be more concerned about the scale of the pro-Palestine sentiment? Yes. Of course. It’s, uh, you know, um,


The velocity, the speed of things happening today is unparalleled to any other time in history. What happened is that the social networks made it, first of all, made everybody, every man is…


uh a channel every man is a news uh a news outlet because every man has an opinion in the past yeah sure everybody had an opinion but they they they couldn’t make it hurt so now everyone is a broadcasting station a small one but some of them aren’t that small so uh so what you see is


Sometimes it’s a herd mentality, but sometimes it’s also just a way that the media landscape had changed so much that things happen so fast that it’s… There’s a saying that, you know, a stone that one stupid person threw into a well, like a hundred smart people would not be able to get it out, right? So it’s like one false…


action can snowball into something that you could not expect because of the velocity and ferocity of the way that people react to everything. There’s an overreaction, right? The thing is a lot of people make a living out of reacting…


to events, right? They have their podcasts, they have their whatever social assets, and they thrive on that. So that’s another thing that makes a snowball even faster and bigger. So it’s, I think like, it’s very, to your question, I was just blabbing on, but to your question,


Yes, every little incident can snowball into something very, very dangerous for a brand. I hear some Israeli companies that have like other branches in other countries. Now they’re advertising themselves from that country instead of Israel to avoid any backlash. Think about a tech company that developed like a small CRM solution. Instead of saying they’re based in Israel, they will say they’re based in Spain or in the UK. What do you think of that?


Again, you know, as I was never CEO of any company, so I was not, I didn’t have to do, I was also always in like creative side and it’s easier, it’s easier to sit here and you know, and do your creatives and not have to deal with like consequences of, but if I was a CEO.


Where’s my first loyalty lies? Okay. Or the loyalties, okay. With the people who invest in the company and with the employees. What happens if I decide to be a, you know, I say, Oh no, I’m going to take a stance on this, this is too important. And then as a consequence, as a consequence,


two months later, I need to lay off 50 employees. And have I done right? No, I need to take care of the employees. I cannot take chances. These are people with families, people who invested in my company. So what is the right thing to do? The right thing to do, I think, in the short term is to make sure that you’re able to sustain your company.


and maybe take actions, you know, like in a more thoughtful kind of, you know, in different ways, other than just being very blunt or going out to social media and being, you know, saying outrageous stuff. That’s what I think. But I respect, you know, I respect people who decide.


to follow their conscience and say, okay, I cannot be silent about this and no matter what the consequences are, I’m gonna say my piece. That’s also, that’s admirable, but it’s risky. Yeah. It reminds me in a sense of brands like Chick-fil-A. You know Chick-fil-A? Mm-hmm. Okay. So they’ve been notorious for two things in the US, right? Their chicken sandwich and being an anti-LGBT brand, you know, and they used to like completely openly advertise it


Like at least when I was there, it got them a lot of issues backlash over the years, you know. But that’s a different topic. Now we’ll switch on the other side. We’ll talk about the brand side. And I’d like us to talk for a second about the employee side. Often employees of companies should not advocate their political views on business channels because it can be perceived as representing the company’s view and can have ramifications and consequences on the company side. Right. So since the October 7th.


My LinkedIn has been filled with reaction from people from all over the world. Right. And my wife also showed me the other day, some extract from a Slack channels, from companies like Amazon and from educating sounding people. I mean, in the form, not in the content, posting things full of inaccuracies and misinformed opinion, spreading more, you know, disinformation. So I think I know what you’re going to answer to this question, but I would like to record it. Should people be using professional outlets like LinkedIn and others to voice?


this specific crisis.


It’s a tough one. You know, it’s a tough one because there’s no… There’s no really right and wrong here. You know, it’s like… You can only say in hindsight, this was wrong to do because it had such negative impacts. And it’s really hard for a company to tell the employees you cannot voice your opinions.


because companies nowadays more than ever acknowledge the fact that employees have opinions and they have their own lives and they should be able to voice them. It’s a good thing, it’s not a bad thing. I think I can tell you from my experience, I would not go… I would…


If I were to say anything about the situation, I would do it in a more private outlet, let’s say, or a more like an outlet, like let’s say Facebook or TikTok, where I am not perceived specifically as a part of a company. When you go on LinkedIn,


it’s very obvious it’s got the company’s name under your title. It’s your face and then the company that you work for. Then that’s just reckless or just inconsiderate. It’s inconsiderate towards your employers that you’re kind of dragging them into this without asking their permission just because.


You have your snowflake opinions and you want to voice them everywhere. You know, you have your outlets. If you go voice your opinion on Facebook and it doesn’t say, or it says very in the corner that you work for a specific brand, then okay, fine. People get it. People get that this is your opinion. Although, it depends also, if you’re from senior management, then even if you go on Facebook and then you can get…


your company in trouble. And plus if you’re not sure, then you can gently find out if that’s okay with the company that you work for. It’s like, people are very now very kind of say, oh, I’m gonna say whatever I want. You cannot tell me what to say. And that’s not true. You live in a…


You make a living out of this, of the place that you work for, and it’s a two-way street. They need to be considered of your needs, but you also need to be considered of theirs. Because it’s a, you know, it’s a, you are an employee, but you’re, you know, you’re also need some, you need to respect the brand that you work for.


I’m not sure I answered your question. You did, actually. You answered my next question. I was going to say that it feels, at the same time, it feels almost out of place not to address the crisis in every post because of the disinformation going on. Because in the sense we are mourning, we’re mourning as a nation, we are mourning as human beings, and we are mourning. So it feels almost out of place to comment or to post about anything else.


At the same time, business is business and it needs to continue and deliver. So I was going to ask, you know, how do you think business and workers, whether they’re, you know, employees or independent can strike a balance? You know, what is that appropriate behavior? Okay. So I think, I think like there’s a difference between taking a stance on political issues or, or who’s right and who’s wrong and expressing your


personal feelings. You can say, this is a tough time for me. I’m mourning all the people who died in vain. I’m dreadful of the terrible violence that we’ve experienced. It’s different than saying the IDF should do this and that, or the government should do this and that, or the…


pointing the finger and whose fault it is. It’s a very, it’s not such a fine line, but it is a line between sharing your feelings and talking about facts as you perceive them. Because that’s, and I know, yeah, of course there’s a lot of misinformation, but I don’t think that, you know, just by voicing,


your opinion on what is true and what is not, first of all I’m not sure it’s gonna change anybody’s mind and second you know there’s a quote maybe it’s too crude for this podcast but it’s I’m gonna say it anyway you know they say opinions are like assholes everybody’s got one so so you know


It’s your opinion. So what? You know, it’s your opinion. And I’m not saying, of course, there’s a lot of misinformation and that’s very infuriating and very, um, and it feels very unjust and it feels very manipulative, but I’m not sure it’s your personal job to use your LinkedIn page to, uh, to demystify all the, what you perceive as misinformation.


Gotcha. Cool. On this great quote… You like that quote? You didn’t know it? I’m going to use it. I think it’s a great way to place to end this episode. Maybe you have some end words or something you want to add. We live in a very confusing time. This is… It’s almost impossible to do the right thing. So a lot of the time…


A lot of the time the right thing to do is just keep your mouth shut. It’s not nice to say, but when you have responsibility towards employees and towards the stakeholders, that’s sometimes what you need to do. And on the other hand, as I said, I respect the ones who have the courage to take the risk. That’s it. Thank you, Yannick Goulin, for your insight. And let’s do this again soon.