Thursday 29 June 2023

Anheuser-Busch CEO Asked If He’d Send Can To Mulvaney Again. He Refuses To Answer.

 The CEO of Bud Light’s parent company still won’t admit putting transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney’s picture on a can of beer was a mistake, despite an enormous backlash that has cost the brand its perch atop the market.

Brendan Whitworth, a Marine Corps veteran and ex-CIA employee, appeared Wednesday on CBS “This Morning,” where he called the backlash “divisive.” Bars, restaurants, and retail stores have reported the thirst for Bud Light bottomed out in April after Mulvaney released a TikTok video showing the custom can while celebrating 365 days of “being a woman.” Although the company later told reeling wholesalers only one such can was printed, the brand’s sales have fallen by as much as 25% with no sign of a recovery brewing.

“I think the conversation surrounding Bud Light has moved away from beer and the conversation has become divisive,” Whitworth said. “Bud Light really doesn’t belong there; Bud Light should be about bringing people together.”

Asked what the intention of the company was in sending Mulvaney the can of beer emblazoned with his picture, Whitworth reiterated the company’s statement from early May, declaring, “It was a gift and it was one can.”

Then came the crucial question: co-host Tony Dokoupil asked, “Knowing what you know now, if you go back, would you send a can to this one person again?”

“There’s a big social conversation taking place right now and big brands are right in the middle of it,” Whitworth replied. “And it’s not just our industry or Bud Light. It’s happening in retail, it’s happening in fast food. And so, for us, what we need to understand is — deeply understand and appreciate — is the consumer, and what they want, what they care about, and what they expect from big brands.”

“Where are you on the issue? Was this a mistake?” Dokoupil pressed.

Again, Whitworth ducked the question.

“Bud Light has supported LGBTQ since 1998, so that’s 25 years,” he said. “And as we’ve said from the beginning, we’ll continue to support the communities and organizations that we’ve supported for decades. But as we move forward, we want to focus on what we do best, which is brewing great beer for everyone, listening to our consumers, being humble in listening to them, making sure we do right by our employees, take care and support our partners, and ultimately make an impact in the communities that we serve.”

Whitworth repeatedly spoke of his employees’ “pride” in working for the company saying, “They’re full of pride” and full of “pride and commitment.”

While the botched campaign has clearly hurt Bud Light sales, it is difficult to gauge how much it has hurt the parent company, which produces numerous popular brands of beer. Asked how much the Mulvaney fiasco had cost the company, Whitworth demurred.

“We’re focusing on investing behind the brand right now,” he said.

Whitworth concluded with a patriotic flourish.

“It really is, as I mentioned, an American institution, and it’s really, to me, one degree of separation from the American flag.”

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