You're not really "stopping the money" by silently refusing to buy.
That's exactly what you're doing, Vox!! If you are not 'buying a product', then you're "stopping the money" from getting into the seller's bank account.
You may not be "stopping the money ... along with the personal satisfaction of letting the seller know why you're doing it"
. But, that's a different thing, with a different (and personal) objective! But whether they know why or not ... hitting them in the pocketbook is hitting them in the pocketbook!! Which is the primary purpose of a boycott. And secondary to that is to use the leverage to force that seller to do what you want!!!
As JWC has just said .... if (enough of) the money stops coming in, then THEY
will find out why that is.
You can make a big production out of it from the beginning if you want to (and most people who stage boycotts do!) ... but, it's not really necessary. The point of it will come out eventually. They WILL look for the reasons for that lost income. And, regardless, they will always try to find other ways to circumvent that loss.
I do understand what I believe is your point that there is 'strength in numbers' and also that it's probably most effective to let your 'enemy' know why they are on your hit list!! And I agree with that, wholeheartedly!! However ... I think people - and especially OUR people - miss the primary point of the effectiveness of using our dollars and spending power to effect change.
A company couldn't care less if or why you're mad at them!! They DO care if you stop buying their product, though!! They care very much about that!! Unfortunately, we're plagued with this mindset of self-gratification and self-satisfaction FIRST ... with a sense of purpose running a distant second .. when it really should be the other way around.
When Don Imus did his racist thing with the girl's basketball team ... the threat of a boycott merely got him kicked off the air from THAT particular venue .... but he turned right around and found an even more lucrative deal with a radio station. So who really got 'hurt'?? Who won and who lost??
If the goal was to punish him, it didn't really work, did it?? Just 'making noise' about a boycott does not have the same affect as actually (vigorously) pursing it. If we really wanted Don Imus off the air ... we should have continued to pursue our protest against him - via his advertisers - until the job was done.
When the protest against Shell Oil (and other oil companies) took place for their role in subsidizing the apartheid system in South Africa, it was ALL OVER the news ... everybody knew and many complied. But, in the end, Shell didn't divest from South Africa ... they simply diversified and began making money in other ways. And, ultimately, it wasn't the boycott against them that economically forced the country to change their ways ... it was the more quieter, less advertised economic hit from other
businesses threatening and refusing to spend their invest dollars there.
The thing is .... everybody wants their intent
acknowledged, especially when it comes to doing a company (or person) bad for what they have done ... and they want it known that they are the "punisher" for any successful punishment given (ex., taking a company to trial vs. settlement of the case so that it can be known
what they did). However, the payout and economic hit that a company takes is FAR more impressionable on that company as a punishment, than any mere perception of them as a "bad company/person".
Through advertising (and a public attention span of about 5 seconds) they can find ways to recoup their image ... but recouping those lost dollars are far, far more important.