The main development is that after Budweiser’s CEO’s fatuous non-apology fell flat, Alissa Heinerscheid, the marketing VP of the Bud Light brand, was placed on “leave of absence” status, meaning she’s been canned but the company wants to try to let passions cool down so it isn’t attacked by a non-beer-drinking LGTBQ mob accusing it of being transphobic.
Good. She deserved to be fired. She placed political DEI grandstanding ahead of her job, which is to sell beer. It is fine to try to expand a market, but the trick is to do that without alienating the market you have. This isn’t really an exotic concept, though it appears to have eluded Disney as well. It’s stunningly simple. If someone likes and has loyalty to a product, and the product deliberately links itself to an image or spokesperson that the loyal consumer doesn’t like, doesn’t want to endorse, doesn’t agree with, or just finds off-putting or icky, the consumer is very likely to have second thoughts about the brand. What’s so hard about that?
Before making the blunder [Notice of Correction: Here I originally wrote “after,” which was wrong. Sorry. ], Heinerscheid had arrogantly described her approach as a necessary turn away from “fratty, kind of out of touch humor.” Then she led her company to embrace a controversial drag performer whom many regard as ridiculing women while repulsing men. She must have thought she was immune from consequences, as a “historic” DEI hire by a beer company. She set back the cause of female executives in her industry while hurting the product she was supposed to help.
Her firing neatly slam-dunked reflex defenders of the botched move in Woke World, including on Ethics Alarms. Having accurately reported that Bud lost billions in value following the fiasco, EA was confronted with irrelevant arguments that the stock drop didn’t matter because it didn’t last, or that Bud Light was popular enough to survive it, and thus this wasn’t a mistake after all. If a marketing campaign creates bad publicity and causes any negative market response, indicates tone-deaf messaging and leads to boycotts and abandonment by loyal consumers for any reason, even bad ones, it’s a corporate crisis. The responsible party is likely to be sacrificed—and ought to be.
Anheuser-Busch InBev said , as it announced the ignominious exit of its “historic hire,” that the company would also streamline marketing “so that our most senior marketers are more closely connected to every aspect of our brand’s activities.” Translation: “We messed up letting someone who knew nothing about our culture, market and product do something so dumb as to recruit a TikTok influencer to use our beer to celebrate her “365 days of girlhood” as part of our March Madness marketing campaign.”
The spokesperson added, “These steps will help us maintain focus on the things we do best: brewing great beer for all consumers, while always making a positive impact in our communities and on our country.”
Wherever you fall in the transgender debate, can anyone honestly argue that the trans-activist campaign is currently having a positive impact on communities and our country? The end result may be positive, but right now, Bud Light’s boneheaded move was like putting either George Wallace or Rev. King on beer cans at the height of the civil rights protests. Buying or using a consumer product shouldn’t have to be a political act.
In related news, the United States House of Representatives last week voted to pass the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, but not a single present Democrat voted in favor of it. Wow. The next day, a former North Carolina high school volleyball player has urged that state legislature to pass a bill banning transgender athletes born male from playing on female sports teams after she was seriously injured when a transgender girl spiked a ball off her head with unusual force. Why Democrats and progressives are putting all of their metaphorical eggs in this very dubious basket is a mystery. The overly aggressive and confrontational trans community is making itself very unpopular, not based on transphobia, but conduct. In the end, it may be the transgender minority that will suffer because they are being encouraged to pursue a “Deal with it!” strategy by groups that want to exploit them as virtue-signaling props.
Those Americans with genuine gender issues who are mature enough to make informed life-decisions deserve a much compassion, support and respect as the rest of us. Calculated defiance and insults are neither a competent or wise course. Just peruse this Washington Post op-ed, if you can, to see where the train wreck is going off the rails. A telling snippet:
This attempt on Bud Light’s part to be forward-thinking about how its customers live and love has been met with a backlash by one group of people who seem to believe that another group of people should not exist…But the reaction to Mulvaney’s milestone reminds us of how problematic these ideas of masculinity can be. If conventional views of manliness could be reduced to a recipe, I’d guess it would be one part stoicism, two parts anger, three parts lust, four parts control over women. This cocktail can be dangerous, creating men who struggle to process complex emotions, deal with negative feelings in a healthy way, or even express love….If your idea of “masculine” is just a hatred of anything that someone told you is “feminine,” then I don’t know what to tell you except that, as a human being, you are entitled to the whole human experience. Not just part of it.
The short answer to this is that ceasing to buy a beer brand that is forcing you to endorse, support, or be part of a political activism movement you would prefer to ignore is a perfectly healthy way of dealing with those negative feelings. This is the predominant symptom of 21st century leftism that we have seen so often: progressives demand that their world view be accepted by everyone, and insist that non-progressives are hateful and evil if they don’t choose to submit.
Seldom has the retort of “Bite me!” been more justified.
9 thoughts on “Ethics Update: The Bud Light-Dylan Mulvaney Ethics Train Wreck [Corrected]”
I’m beginning to suspect lefties and Democrats not only want to eliminate all conservatives and Republicans because they are the only impediment to their establishing heaven on earth; they also want to eliminate all heterosexual men for the same reason. And maybe even heterosexual women.
Budweiser is very much a working man’s drink, however else you look at it. It is not Heineken, which is the jacket and tie piano bar kind of beer. It certainly isn’t one of these pretentious craft beers that is sold in flights. It’s the kind of thing you drink after baling hay or working on a loading dock all week. It’s the kind of thing that you see on tap at the air shows I frequent and is drunk by those who attend the gun shows and machine shows my father frequents. Like it or not, that crowd is mostly men, mostly white, and mostly patriotic.
Does it make even a little bit of sense to think that a bunch of veterans and military fans in squadron t-shirts and flight jackets, or a bunch of hunters and target shooters in camouflage and safety orange, or a bunch of rough and ready gearheads in flannel shirts and canvas jackets, frequently sporting Duck Dynasty beards, would be even the slightest bit interested in this advertising campaign?
I think you know the answer, and so do most of the execs at this company. They know who their target market is, and they know how to reach them. They wouldn’t still maintain the Clydesdales and be doing (mostly) commercials about manly men and patriotism if they didn’t know. They also know damn well that the crowd who would be interested in some mentally ill person’s journey toward surgical and chemical imitation of the gender he was not born into are not interested in what they make. Malt liquor is the black drink of choice, and the overeducated liberals tend more towards one costs more than whole meals by the glass. To try to market this way is simply the wrong product towards the wrong people, which is almost an insult to both. No wonder the campaign failed.
One part stoicism, two parts anger, three parts lust, and four parts control over women. Mmmhmm. Speaking of insults, that’s a pretty harsh one. Still after his himself a black man, so I’m guessing that insult is directed at white men. Let’s think about this for a minute. White men are angry. White men can’t express emotions other than anger. White men are 70% about either controlling women or forcing themselves on them. I wish I could say this is unique, but it isn’t. It’s just repetition of the same garbage we’ve been hearing over the past 2 decades which just intensified in the last 7 years. The left in this country has reached the point where it believes that being a white patriotic man of faith is in and of itself a crime. Hmmm. Who last tried to sell anyone on the idea that one particular group was evil and untrustworthy and responsible for every problem everyone else experienced? If you said the Nazis you’d be right, but there’s any number of other groups who would also fill the bill. The idea that one particular group is responsible for all of society’s problems and needs to be eliminated is an idea that keeps popping up in every age. Unfortunately, as a few nations have found out, just eliminating the people you don’t like does not solve all society’s problems. Turkey was one of the ones that was successful in eliminating everyone who they blamed. It hasn’t gotten them out of the third world. Eliminating white men of faith will not solve America’s problems. It will just leave us with a nation of moochers.
Elimination is not the goal. Subjugation and domination are the goals. Authoritarians don’t want their enemies gone; they want them weak enough to push around. They need an enemy, a disfavored group to punish and control. That’s why there’s no “live and let live” with these people. It’s not because what you think is so intolerable to them, it’s because the whole point of the exercise is to dominate you.
“Then, after making the blunder, Heinerscheid arrogantly represented it as a necessary turn away from “fratty, kind of out of touch humor,” as she led her company to embrace a controversial drag performer whom many regard as ridiculing women while repulsing men.”
This isn’t right. She said the words, but the order of events is all kinds of wrong.
First off, Heinerscheid is the VP of Marketing, she has literally nothing to do with special webbing on promo cans, or individual Instagram sponsorships. You can make the argument that the fish rots from the head down, and that Heinerscheid had previously made comments about inclusivity, but that “blunder” of a decision was almost certainly made multiple levels of management under her paygrade.
And you may have noticed that I put “previously” in italics there. That’s because the video everyone is saying was made as a response to the Mulvaney ad was actually made in February following backlash from fans because Bud Light put a woman in the ad that played during the Superbowl. You may not have heard about that one because the backlash there was *incredibly* stupid.
The offending ad:
I understand the market angle in this. It’s always been a job to navigate the intergenerational divide and to seek a new customers, you have to figure out a way to appeal to the next generation without turning off the old. It’s going to be harder than usual this time around because the differences between the generations is massive this time around, and everything is so connected. I’m not going to pretend that Inbev did a good job this time around, but what actually happened was:
-Bud Light ran a Superbowl ad with a woman.
-Heinerscheid gave an interview explaining that Bud Light was a dying brand looking for a new customer base and made all the comments currently making the rounds.
-Bud Light paid a sponsorship to Mulvaney for a single Instagram mention.
-Brendan Whitworth made a non-apology apology.
-Heinerscheid and Daniel Blake were put on leave.
Bud designed a can with Mulvaney’s face on it. Is it really plausible that this could happen without the head of Bud Light marketing being aware of it and approving it?
But you are right that the statement quoted was wrong–it didn’t even match the post it was based on, and I’ll fix it. NOW.
Absolutely. I don’t think you understand how small a deal this is. If Mulvaney got $1000 for the bit I’d be genuinely surprised, and the webbing was probably designed in 10 minutes by an intern.
More: I don’t get the “incompetent underlings” angle at all. Heinerscheid’s responsible for what the brand she was put in charge of marketing does in that realm: if she directed that dumb move or it happened on her watch without her knowing about it (it did fit with her earlier statements), she’s still accountable. Her boss was “put on leave” too, as you note, which says to me, “This is what you get for hiring that bozo.”
This is right. Like I said, you can argue that the fish rots from the head down. I suspect that Heinerscheid gave mandate to her underlings to be inclusive, and they ran there with it. I’m just not prepared to say with certainty that she knew that her department was doing this, or would flag it as a good idea if she did… I mean, it coincided with March Madness and Dylan said she didn’t know what that was. I get that she’s interested in inclusion, but to this point, the most out there thing I know of that she did was the ad above (and I absolutely believe that she was involved in a Superbowl ad).
“She set back the cause of female executives in her industry while hurting the product she was supposed to help.”
I am not sure that is correct. Most criticism I have read, heard, and seen has nothing to do with a woman VP leading a marketing division of a very larger company making a terrible marketing decision, concluding that “women shouldn’t be marketing VPs”. Most have criticized a tone deaf culture and social justice campaign that ignored a company’s brand’s target market. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who drinks Bud Light v. Heineken or St. Arnold’s, or The Macallan, et al. The Chevy Nova didn’t sell in Spain because it “no va” – meaning “it doesn’t go anywhere”.
The campaign itself was ill-conceived and terribly executed. If Bud Light wanted to target the gay community, it could have used someone like Rapinoe (who, I get is a lightening rod) but she is well known and a proven commodity. Or, they could have used Caitlyn Jenner. Instead, they chose a person with obvious issues mocking women to sell a brand during March Madness who admittedly knew nothing about basketball, who acted like a ridiculous version of Audrey Hepburn, and the campaign blew up in their corporate face. Oops. Obviously, the heads of the marketing had to be fired (or declared to have taken a “leave of absence”).
All because he passed a one year milestone as a woman, someone nobody knew or cared anything about? Prior to March 2023, the name Dylan Mulvaney was unknown to 99.999% of the population. I saw the original ad and thought, “who’s that?” I still don’t know and, frankly, don’t care.
I don’t drink Bud Light because I don’t care for light beers. (And, yes, I loathe Coors; Miller Genuine Draft, though, is a damn fine brew.) But, I have no real issues with those who drink it. I am not the target audience/demographic, though. Bud Light blew the marketing campaign and will suffer from it. That’s how it is in the big city.