If you’ve been in social media “jail,” or on a temporary break from Facebook and the national news, you may not have heard that YETI severed its ties with the National Rifle Association, at the cost of a significant amount of controversy. The issue was brought to light by a letter from NRA director and past president Marion Hammer.
“For years YETI Coolers have been a hot item for sportsmen at the Friends of NRA Foundation Banquet and Auction events around the country.”
These Foundation events raise money to support youth programs and educational programs nationwide. The youth of America who benefit from these programs are the future hunters, hikers, fishermen/women, bikers, campers, wildlife photographers, mountain climbers, sportsmen/women and conservationists who will protect our natural resources and recreational lands.
Suddenly, without prior notice, YETI declined to do business with The NRA Foundation saying it no longer wish to be an NRA vendor and refused to say why. YETI will only say it will no longer sell products to The NRA Foundation. That certainly isn’t sportsmanlike. In fact, YETI should be ashamed.YETI has declined to continue helping America’s young people enjoy outdoor recreational activities. These activities enable them to appreciate America and enjoy our natural resources with wholesome and healthy outdoor recreational and educational programs.
The NRA Foundation is 501(c)(3) non-profit, charitable organization.
In this day and age, information is power. We thought you needed this information.”
This caused a social media uprising with noticeable silence from Yeti for a period of several days. Yeti responded Sunday evening/Monday morning with the following:
A few weeks ago, YETI notified the NRA Foundation, as well as a number of other organizations, that we were eliminating a group of outdated discounting programs,” explained YETI in a statement sent to The Inertia. “When we notified the NRA Foundation and the other organizations of this change, YETI explained that we were offering them an alternative customization program broadly available to consumers and organizations, including the NRA Foundation.
These facts directly contradict the inaccurate statement the NRA-ILA distributed on April 20.
Furthermore, the NRA-ILA stated in that same public communication that ‘[YETI has] declined to continue helping America’s young people enjoy outdoor recreational activities.’ Nothing is further from the truth. YETI was founded more than 10 years ago with a passion for the outdoors, and over the course of our history we have actively and enthusiastically supported hunters, anglers, and the broader outdoor community. We have been devoted to and will continue to directly support causes tied to our passion for the outdoors, including by working with many organizations that promote conservation and management of wildlife resources and habitat restoration. From our website to our film footage and from our social media posts to our ambassadors, YETI has always prominently featured hunters pursuing their passions. Moreover, YETI is unwavering in our belief in, and commitment to, the Constitution of the United States and its Second Amendment.
YETI’s competitors were quick to act, with Pelican offering a $10 donation to the NRA and a free 20 oz. tumbler to anyone that purchased its coolers, and YETI Nemesis, RTIC, placed a photo of the Second Amendment on ita profiles across social media.
After much digging and many calls and messages, we recently acquired the following information—an additional quote from Marion Hammer-regarding the YETI/NRA back and forth.
“YETI severed ties with the NRA and is now engaging in damage control after a backlash from many of its customers. In early March, YETI refused to place a previously negotiated order from the NRA-ILA, citing ‘recent events’ as the reason—a clear reference to the tragedy in Parkland, Florida.
YETI then delivered notice to the NRA Foundation that it was terminating a 7-year agreement and demanded that the NRA remove the YETI name and logo from all NRA digital assets, as well as refraining from using any YETI trademarks in future print material. While YETI is trying to spin the story otherwise, those are the facts.
While YETI can choose to run from the NRA, it can’t run from the facts. Whether this is due to the recent cancellation of its IPO from its NYC owners is a question only YETI can answer.”
Numerous attempts made to contact YETI, resulting in our being referred to YETI’s PR person, who would only furnish its previously quoted response.
Now, there is another, new response circulating the web to YETI from Fletcher’s Outdoors—one that could be a glimpse into what could be devastating financial consequences for one of the outdoor industry’s major brands:
We at Fletchers Outdoors have pressed Yeti for statements and answers since early Monday morning. An email was circulated on Monday, addressed to Yeti managers, NRA Foundation, National Shooting Sports Foundation executives, Fletchers buy group executives and local press Andalusia Star News Michele Cox Gerlach and WAAO Blaine Wilson, written by M Anthony King. Yeti, in damage control mode, called M Anthony King ahead of its released statement Monday afternoon. King told them YETI’s statement did not explain its actions and lacked substance. The NRA has rebuked the YETI statement today.
Fletchers Outdoors has asked its buying group to revoke its vendor agreement with Yeti, an estimated $150 million value in some 500 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
We have frozen all orders with Yeti and will reject any shipments in transit. We will replace them with a firearm-friendly cooler manufacturer. Our current inventory of Yeti products will be flushed through the store, by sales or any other method necessary. Additionally, and for the record, we will continue to sell all legal firearms and ammunition to our customers. We will not destroy any firearms. Furthermore, we will not do business with any company, entity, or person that diminishes the Second Amendment rights of the American people.
Best Regards & Merica”
One must ask, “Why would companies with such a broad base of hunters and shooters distance themselves from the NRA, the oldest civil rights organization in the U.S.?”
America’s hunters, shooters and gun owners are extremely loyal to their base and to companies they perceive are “on their side.”
In the end, I believe we will chalk this one up as another win for America’s supporters of the Second Amendment.
You make the call. Did YETI pull away from the NRA and Second Amendment for political reasons or was this simply a case of bad timing and optics? Share your answers in the comment section.
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