By Naveen Athrappully
Transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney has left the United States alleging safety concerns for an undisclosed period of time while the Bud Light boycott continues amid sharp criticism regarding the CEO’s decision following the public backlash.
Mr. Mulvaney was in Peru, according to a recent social media post. “The people here are so kind. I feel very safe here. It’s a little sad that I had to leave my country to feel safe. But that will get better eventually.” It is not known whether Mr. Mulvaney was aware of the fact that Peru does not recognize gay marriage or non-binary genders.
Even though Mr. Mulvaney claims that he does not feel safe in the United States, the influencer has appeared in public multiple times since the Bud Light debacle in April. In June, Mr. Mulvaney attended an NYC Pride night event and also made an appearance at the Tony Awards.
According to data from Equaldex, a knowledge base of LGBT laws worldwide, though Peru recognizes homosexuality, it does not recognize gay marriage. Conversion therapy is not banned in the country. Non-binary genders are also not legally recognized. Peru scores 57 points out of a possible 100 in Equaldex’s Equality Index.
Before flying off to Peru, Mr. Mulvaeny had criticized Bud Light for abandoning him following the marketing fiasco.
In a June 30 Instagram video, the transgender influencer insisted that he has faced “more bullying and transphobia than I could have ever imagined” after being part of Bud Light’s promotional campaign.
“For a company to hire a trans-person and then not publicly stand by them is worse, in my opinion, than not hiring a trans-person at all because it gives customers permission to be as transphobic and hateful as they want,” Mr. Mulvaney stated.
In its response, Anheuser-Busch InBev, which owns Bud Light, did not criticize Mr. Mulvaney. Instead, the company only said that it remains “committed to the programs and partnerships we have forged over decades with organizations across a number of communities, including those in the LGBTQ+ community.”
Bud Light Wasted ‘Three Chances’ to Win Back Customers
Anson Frericks, the former president of operations at Anheuser-Busch, said during a July 10 interview with Fox News that CEO Brendan Whitworth has had “three chances now” to make the company’s stand clear to customers and win them back.
Mr. Whitworth did not do anything to take advantage of July 4th sales, “the number-one beer-selling week of the year.”
The CEO did not provide a “clear response” when CBS asked him if “the campaign was a mistake,” and whether “he would do it again.” Mr. Frericks said that Mr. Whitworth should have admitted the mistake and promised not to do this again as the company has lost billions of dollars in market capitalization.
Besides this, the CEO put a lot of suppliers and employees at risk. “They’re laying off hundreds of people from jobs at some of their suppliers.” Mr. Frericks said, “Our brands are down almost 30 percent, and all of a sudden, we’re putting a lot of our suppliers at risk, and they’re laying off hundreds of people from jobs at some of their suppliers.”
Frericks added, “There’s going to be more employees at risk if we don’t find a CEO who can somehow address the situation, get those customers back that were always loyal to Bud Light, and move this company forward.”
In his Fox News interview, Mr. Frericks also said he was “shocked” about how much money Anheuser-Busch has lost due to the ongoing controversy.
Between April 3 and July 10, Anheuser-Busch’s market capitalization declined from $134.14 billion to $111.99 billion—a loss of more than $22 billion, or over 16 percent.
During this period, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s share price fell from €61.16 to €50.68, which represents a decline of more than 17 percent.
Bud Light’s sales numbers have been declining in recent weeks. For the week ended July 1, sales fell by 28.5 percent, higher than the 27.5 percent fall in the previous week, according to Bump Williams Consulting, which cited NielsenIQ data. Other beer brands owned by Anheuser-Busch are also experiencing a decline.
Sales of Michelob Ultra, for example, fell by 4.3 percent for the week ended July 1, Busch Light slumped by 8.5 percent, and Budweiser saw a decrease of 10.2 percent.
“Budweiser trends have been slipping for a very long time, but it’s the Michelob Ultra negative numbers and now Busch Light negative trends that are most alarming to me,” Bump Williams, the president of Bump Williams Consulting, told the New York Post. “They were very healthy prior to April 1.”
According to a YouGov poll, Bud Light was ranked 15th in the list of most popular beers in the United States during second quarter 2023, down from its ninth rank in the same period a year back.
Bud Light has been attempting to win back customers through its recent advertisements. However, the brand is getting slammed for the ads as anger among consumers still remains.
On July 10, the brand shared a gif of a Bud Light can on Twitter with the tag—“The best beer is an open beer.” It received scathing comments from users.
“The best woman is a real woman, not a Dylan,” said a military veteran. Another user pointed out that “it’s not the beer that matters … It’s what that brand evokes … Right now, Bud Light is woke-a-cola.”
Cutting Off Ties With Mr. Mulvaney
In a July 1 column at The Daily Mail, Mr. Frericks criticized the company for giving a “weak and indecisive” response after Mr. Mulvaney’s outcry. “Mulvaney did something Mr. Whitworth should have had the wisdom to do weeks ago–cut ties.”
According to Mr. Frericks, Mr. Whitworth has failed in admitting that Bud Light’s Mulvaney promotion was a mistake due to “stakeholder capitalism.”
“Because he’s been paralyzed by corporate America’s forced adoption of ‘stakeholder’ capitalism, which preaches to companies about why they must serve activists, politicians, non-governmental organizations, and all manner of interests–anyone really apart from their shareholders and customers!”
Stakeholder capitalism or ESG (environmental, social, governance) investing incentivizes companies to take on progressive policies as dictated by activist investors like Blackrock. They are forced to adhere to leftist diversity and inclusion ideologies while ignoring market requirements and fundamental customer demand.