What happens when your brand finds itself caught in the middle of a very touchy subject?

This recently happened with Delta Airlines in the wake of the Parkland school shootings. After the incident, Delta wanted to stop offering discounts to NRA members. On the surface this seemed like a good move. Public sentiment seemed to be moving in that direction and several companies had already changed their policies on guns or the NRA.

However, Delta’s decision to end the NRA discount quickly caused an uproar with the lieutenant governor of Georgia pushing back. Ending this program cost them millions in tax benefits. They had been offering the NRA discounts for years now and it’s only recently gotten attention. In fact, Delta only sold 13 tickets with the NRA discount.

If you think about this from Delta’s perspective, they didn’t really do anything. This just kind of happened around them. While they may have thought they were doing the right thing by ending those discounts, avoiding any public backlash, but now they have backlash from the opposite side. It just seems like in this situation no matter what they did, they couldn’t avoid it. They were caught.

This happens all the time with different businesses. Public outrage grows and companies sit by, almost as innocent bystanders. No company wants to find itself the target of a boycott. Part of Delta’s statement even admits their “objective in removing any implied affiliation with the NRA was to remove Delta from [the gun control] debate.”

Time will tell if this ultimately hurts the airline, but their courage to address the issue head on instead of backing down or attempting to appeal to both sides is commendable.