Bud Light finally took some action this week after the disastrous hit they brought upon themselves by associating with transgender personality Dylan Mulvaney, who claims to be transgender. Bud Light has recognized Mulvaney for the “personal milestone” of “365 days of being a girl,” as Mulvaney has shamefully mocked women, putting on a “woman face,” even pretending to be a child.
That caused a huge backlash, with people leaving the beer on the shelves and even musicians like Travis Tritt and Kid Rock saying they would be boycotting the product.
Then it was announced that Bud Light’s vice president of marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid, was taking a “leave of absence” and had been replaced by Budweiser global marketing vice president Todd Allen. I think it’s fair to say that if they replace you, it’s going to be a pretty long “leave of absence” — like maybe a permanent one. If she was concerned about Bud Light being perceived as too “fratty” and not “inclusive” enough, now she has a lot of time to think about it and talk with her “professional coach” about what made her go down this ridiculous road.
What was funny about Heinerscheid’s comments about inclusivity was this picture.
#alissaheinersheid not to pile on but I have to point this out. Look at this pic of Alissa’s Bud Light team. She talks about diversity & inclusion but I don’t see it here. I mostly see a feminine group of white people who must be out of touch w/ reality & blue collar America. pic.twitter.com/991Vn0j5Fn— (C-Suite Hunter) Liam_NeedsHisMoney (@needshismoney) April 22, 2023
Now, I don’t want to make any assumptions about age, sex, or race here. But they are all looking pretty young and white. What they are missing is any of that inclusivity that she was concerned about — where are the middle-aged guys who have been a big part of their customer base? Where are any people of color? But again, that’s another “rules for thee and not for me” moment.
But now there’s more action, with another head that’s been put on the chopping block.
The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Heinerscheid’s boss Daniel Blake has also taken a “leave of absence.”
“Given the circumstances, Alissa has decided to take a leave of absence which we support,” an Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman said in an email. “Daniel has also decided to take a leave of absence.”
The company has also hired two consultants “with experience in Washington, D.C.’s conservative circles to advise the brand moving forward.”
Again, someone on this Bud Light team isn’t thinking clearly. The problem isn’t going to be solved by talking to some D.C. consultant. Listen to what the American people who are your customers are saying: it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. Bring in some of your former customer base and let them talk to you for a bit. Understand what it is they’re saying to you.
Former Anheuser-Busch executive Anson Frericks explained it in simple terms on “Fox and Friends,” saying they can’t count on Americans forgetting about this. He said they needed to go back to being apolitical and say, “We’re not going to get involved in the environmental social governance movement because that’s not what the customer wants.” Frericks said the company is going to have to decide “who it’s going to be accountable to.”
“There’s a more fundamental problem that’s going on right now where Anheuser-Busch has to choose who it’s going to be accountable to. … Will it be its shareholders? Or its so-called stakeholders? Let me explain. Historically, Anheuser-Busch has been accountable to its shareholders, which are people like firefighters, doctors, lawyers that invested in companies like Anheuser-Busch via 401(K)s or their pension plans,” he said.
“Over the last couple of years, there’s been organizations like BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard that have pushed this new model of stakeholder capitalism, asking companies like Anheuser-Busch to be accountable to all these so-called stakeholders, political organizations, activist organizations. And they do that by implementing ESG, or environmental social governance policies, in corporations that ask them to get involved in these controversial issues. But unfortunately, when you try to be everything to everyone, you end up being accountable to no one.”
The former Anheuser-Busch executive urged Bud Light to remind itself what its historically loyal customers want.
“What the customer wants with Bud Light is they want to have things that bring us together. They want humor. They want the ‘Dilly Dilly’ guys. They want football. They want the things that bind us together as co-equal citizens here, not necessarily having Bud Light get involved in political controversies that tear us apart. Heck, this is one of the most apolitical brands out there, shared by Democrats and Republicans alike,” Frericks said.
That’s good advice from Frericks but at this point, I don’t know how they get their customers back. At the very least, start with an apology, and then they have to start listening to the people who have been their customer base, and not the ESG guys who have sold them a bill of goods.