Doritos in Crisis: Anti-Woke / Boycott Campaign

March 19, 2024
5 min

On March 5, 2024, Doritos terminated its partnership with Spanish transgender influencer Samantha Hudson The decision was made following backlash from far-right groups who called for a boycott of the brand. 

Doritos clarified that they had based their decision solely on controversial tweets Hudson had made when she was 15, and  emphasized that gender identity had not played a factor in the decision. But, the evidence strongly suggests that this was not the case. Hudson’s transgender status was a major catalyst for the boycott which rapidly spread across both alternative social media (alt-social) and mainstream platforms. 

The backlash included various offensive narratives, from accusations of satanic practices within the LGBTQ+ community to critiques of corporate “wokeness.” Hudson’s gender identity was, and still is, a focal point for those rallying against Doritos.

Typically, Doritos is mentioned under 200 times per month, but Pyrra’s AI detected a significant increase on March 5th, with mentions skyrocketing to over 1,600 posts - an eightfold increase! - due to the boycott campaign.

Most of the mentions were negative, with a portion also containing offensive, hateful and violent language. The  majority of the mentions occurred on Truth Social, the right-leaning alt-social media platform founded by former President Donald Trump. The platform is popular with a subset of conservatives who perpetuate malicious disinformation about trans people and the queer community at large. 

 Across the 37 alt-social media sites we monitor, the hashtag #boycottdoritos was used 704 times in the one week following the Doritos decision to terminate the partnership! 

Though this number may not seem viral, harmful narratives that start on alt-social often spread to mainstream media where they go viral, amplifying their reach and influence. Notably, far-right X accounts, including Libs of TikTok and End Wokeness, shared the message to millions of viewers, further fueling the controversy.

The incident reflects a broader trend where social media activism is directly impacting brands. Similar instances include the BudLight boycott over its partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney and the Target boycott over LGBTQ+ Pride-themed merchandise. 

Indeed many alt-social users were quick to compare this incident to BudLight’s, with some claiming this situation is worse. During the height of the BudLight boycott, the brand experienced a 17% drop in total sales, including a 6% decrease in restaurant sales.  Sales are yet to recover. This is highly concerning for Doritos, who was already experiencing significant loss in market share in Europe after major supermarket chain Carrefour parted ways with PepsiCo in January due to "due to unacceptable price increases". 

Although Doritos severed ties with Hudson, users continued to call for further boycotts for their mere association with Hudson…  

… largely because of Hudson’s transgender status. One prevailing anti-LGBTQ+ narrative that gained significant traction conflates LGBTQ+ individuals, including Hudson, with unfounded associations of satanic and pedophilic associations. 

Another narrative attacks Doritos for embracing “wokeness” by supporting the LGTBQ+ community. This attack mirrors similar instances where far-right and anti-LGTBQ+ groups exploit the alt-social ecosystem to amplify their ongoing anti-woke agenda, including this January when users attributed the Boeing/Alaska Airlines door blowout to Boeing’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, alleging that Boeing prioritized hiring minority groups over competency. 

And some users are going so far as to claim that this is part of a larger “woke” conspiracy, fueled by globalist elites- a popular narrative associated with the “Great Reset.”

The increase in hateful rhetoric and misinformation that emerged following the Doritos boycott highlight the increasing dangers to brand, reputation and physical safety posed by the alt-social media ecosystem. Indeed, attacks on the LGTBQ+ community perpetuate harmful stereotypes and stigmatization. Such unfounded claims not only fuel discrimination but also undermine efforts towards LGBTQ+ acceptance and equality.

Now more than ever, companies need to be monitoring these sites to:

  • Understand pervasive narratives and consider how company actions, policies, statements or even in-action can be perceived by these communities 
  • Identify potential problems before they go viral, and 
  • Closely monitor crises to quickly respond and act when necessary

Pyrra’s goal is to make the internet and the world a safer place by identifying and combating hate speech, violent threats, reputation risk and brand damage across the unmoderated and alternative corners of the internet. Should your team need support in monitoring or identifying threats or trends online, please contact us at

1 Kalhan Rosenblatt. “Doritos severs ties with transgender influencer in Spain following online boycott threat.” NBC. March, 2024. 

2 Id. 

3 Thomas Kika. “Doritos Cuts Ties With Transgender Ambassador After Backlash.” Newsweek. March, 2024. 

4 Aoife Gallagher and Ciaran O’Connor. “The ‘Great Reset:’ ISD Global. (The core conspiratorial theme is that Schwab and the WEF are acting as a Machiavellian hidden hand, orchestrating COVID-19 lockdowns and other public health measures in order to achieve their own sinister goals. These purported goals differ somewhat in various versions of the conspiracy theory. In some cases it’s about bringing about economic collapse, in others about establishing Marxist or socialist authoritarian rule, and at times it is linked to a vision of a corporate capitalist surveillance dystopia)

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