Case Study

Land O’Lakes Abandons Native American Logo: Brand Authenticity or Virtue Signaling? 

Paul E. Olsen, Brandon Mitchell
August 14, 2023
North America
Marketing & Sales, Ethics & Social Justice, Strategy & General Management
7 pages
corporate social responsibility, ethics, marketing, Branding, Diversity, equity and inclusion
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.76)
Average rating: 

This case is about Land O’Lakes President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Beth Ford and her company’s decision to stop using Mia, a Native American woman, on its butter packaging. (Mia’s iconic image had appeared on Land O’Lakes packaging for more than 90 years). While some welcomed the elimination of an image they viewed as a racist stereotype, others accused Land O’Lakes of corporate wokeness, virtue signaling, and bowing to political correctness. For her part, Beth Ford said the change was made to highlight the uniqueness of Land O’Lakes as a farmer-owner dairy cooperative. However, in light of the backlash, did Ford make the right decision given her company’s commitment to community, social responsibility, and diversity and inclusion? Additionally, would consumers view the logo change as authentic or a cynical attempt at virtue signaling? Finally, how should she respond to critics of the change?

Learning Outcomes: 

In completing this assignment, students should be able to:
1. Explain the role corporate social responsibility plays in selecting corporate logos and/or mascots.
2. Examine the ethical issues involved in corporate logos and/or mascots.
3. Debate the pros and cons of virtue signaling.
4. Analyze corporate brand authenticity.
5. Develop an appropriate strategy to respond to a public relations crisis.