Civil Rights Group Challenges J&J Via Ad Campaign

Civil Rights advocacy group ColorofChange (COC) has launched a multimedia ad campaign to pressure drug and consumer goods company Johnson & Johnson to stop its financial backing of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The civil rights group says ALEC is the force behind a number of legislative initiatives around the country that are designed to suppress the turnout of minorities at voting booths. COC also says ALEC is a major supporter of various “stand your ground” movements, like the one in Florida which it claims is at least partly responsible for delaying the arrest of a suspect in the shooting death there of Trayvon Martin.

Radio ads are scheduled to air in Chicago, Washington DC and New Brunswick, NJ, where J&J is based. The ads will also air in Sanford, FL, where 17-year-old Martin was killed in February.

COC has been lobbying J&J for months to quit ALEC without success, which is why it launched its ad campaign this week.

According to a transcript supplied by COC in one radio ad, two people are heard conversing about the J&J-ALEC tie, with one noting that ALEC is “attacking the rights of Black folks, Latinos, and workers in states across the country. It spread the 'shoot first' law that protected Trayvon Martin’s [alleged] killer -- and laws that suppress the Black Vote!”

The other person in the ad then responds: “And Johnson & Johnson gives money to ALEC?” The ad ends with a call to action, urging listeners to text a certain mobile number “to get involved.”

COC has been aggressively lobbying big companies to stop their support of ALEC and claims that more than a dozen have agreed to do since it began its efforts -- including Procter & Gamble, which confirmed that it has severed ties to ALEC. According to Reuters, Walmart, Coca-Cola Co, Kraft Foods, McDonald's, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have also recently stopped supporting ALEC.

An ALEC rep did not return a query seeking comment. A J&J rep also did not return a call for comment by deadline.

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