Leveraging the Power of Collective Outrage: Using the Tools of Social Media to Stand Up for the Little Guy

Bo Muller-More wears a hat that reads EAT MORE KALE, in front of t-shirts with the same phrase

Bo Muller-Moore wears a hat that reads Eat More Kale .com, in front of shirts with the same call to action

The recent troubles of Bo Muller-Moore, the folk artist from Vermont who silk screens t-shirts with the slogan “EAT MORE KALE,” are a reminder of just how gratifying it can be to participate in digital collective action on behalf of a good cause.

In case you aren’t already following the story, here are the details. By his own website description, “Bo Muller-Moore has been in business for more than 10 years, promoting local sustainable agriculture through food messages. His small, eco-friendly t-shirt business upholds values that make Vermont a great place to live, work and raise a family.  When Bo recently applied for a federal trademark on his business name, Chick-fil-A, a multi-million dollar fast food company threatened to block EAT MORE KALE’s trademark attempt and shut down Bo’s business.”

At this point, a friend of Bo’s, who also happens to be a organizer, got involved and established an online petition. Starting with a modest goal to obtain 1,000 online signatures, the story has gained national attention, sparking nearly 25,000 signatures to date and widespread media coverage on outlets ranging from Anderson Cooper’s “Ridiculist” to The New York Times. Peter Shumlin,Vermont’s governor is tweeting to support Bo (@TeamKale) and the hashtag #eatmorekale lets you show your support for the cause, or promote kale recipes. Who would have thought you could combine protesting corporate bullying with the democratization of a little-known green loaded with anti-oxidants?

The jury’s out on how far Chick-fil-A will take its claims against EAT MORE KALE, and whether or not Bo will be successful in obtaining trademark protection for his slogan. I, for one, am gunning for him. But in the meantime, we can all enjoy some of the pure positive impact of social media in one of those rare clear-cut, real-life examples of good trumps evil. And by the way, Bo’s t-shirts are really cool. You just have to be patient. With all of the attention on EAT MORE KALE, the one-man production line is having trouble filling orders.

Nancy Lerner is Founder and Chief Strategist for Otherwise Incorporated.

Photo credit: The Adam Corolla Show