PR firm reportedly urges major brands to keep quiet about abortion amid Roe v. Wade controversy

Stance on controversial issues can alienate huge numbers of customers, firm says.

Updated: May 7, 2022 - 11:40pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A public relations firm is reportedly urging its major branded clients to refrain from speaking out about abortion, telling them that public stances on controversial issues could serve only to alienate significant portions of their customer bases.

The directive—which comes amid ongoing controversy surrounding the Supreme Court’s apparent intention to repeal Roe v. Wade—was allegedly delivered by the firm Zeno, whose clients include globally recognized brands such as Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Netflix. 

The Subtack newsletter Public Information reported this week that Zeno’s Executive Vice President for Media Strategy Katie Cwayna ordered the company’s brands to avoid any commentary on the issue, particularly to media outlets. 

“Do not engage with direct questions about your company’s position,” Cwayna wrote in the letter obtained by PI. “Whether in direct messages or public-facing posts, do not respond to questions about where your company stands on this issue.”

Taking a stand on the abortion issue, Cwayna noted, “is a textbook ‘50/50’ issue.” 

“Subjects that divide the country can sometimes be no-win situations for companies because regardless of what they do they will alienate at least 15 to 30 percent of their stakeholders,” she said. 

The Supreme Court is expected to issue its opinion on Roe v. Wade next month.