Former Anheuser-Busch executive, Anson Frericks, has urged Brendan Whitworth, the beer company’s U.S. CEO, to resign due to the fallout from Bud Light’s controversial association with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
In a column for The Daily Mail, Frericks writes that Whitworth has proven incapable of handling the crisis revolving around Mulvaney, stating, “He’s had multiple chances, and he’s failed.”
‘Marketing mishap’ costs Bud Light $ 20 billion
After featuring Mulvaney’s face on a personalized beer can in April, Bud Light faced backlash.
This marketing mishap reportedly cost the company billions in sales, leading to the beer company being overtaken by Modelo Especial in the U.S. market.
Frericks said the decision to feature Mulvaney cost the company a whopping “$20 billion–and counting–in lost market cap value.”
Frericks chides Anheuser-Busch for ‘weak’ response to Mulvaney
Frericks berated Anheuser-Busch’s recent “weak and indecisive” response to Mulvaney’s public criticism of the company.
In a video on Instagram, Mulvaney said, “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.”
Frericks campaigns for Whitworth’s resignation
Anheuser-Busch vaguely replied that they remain committed to partnerships with various communities, including the LGBTQ+ community, without addressing Mulvaney directly.
Frericks found the company’s response lacking substance, fearing it would further alienate customers.
He called on Anheuser-Busch’s shareholders and board to request Whitworth’s resignation.
Frericks calls out Whitworth for mismanaging the iconic brand
Despite having had “a good relationship” with Whitworth, Frericks emphasized the importance of holding corporate leaders accountable for handling iconic American brands.
Frericks scrutinized Whitworth’s past responses, notably the CEO’s initial statement regarding the Mulvaney crisis in April and a subsequent one in June.
Frericks critiques Whitworth’s non-responses in can design controversy
Frericks said both attempts were bland and worsened the situation as they neither addressed the controversy nor offered an apology.
Whitworth failed to decisively state whether he regretted the controversial can design, which further incensed Frericks.
Frericks on stakeholder capitalism: Admit mistakes, make amends
The former executive believes Whitworth’s inability to openly admit the company’s mistake is due to corporate America’s forced adoption of ‘stakeholder’ capitalism, which prioritizes a range of interests, often neglecting shareholders and customers.
Frericks concluded his column by emphasizing the importance of corporate leaders owning their missteps and making amends.
Anheuser-Busch’s fate: A cautionary tale for other businesses
He warned that the fate of Anheuser-Busch should serve as a cautionary tale for other businesses, reinforcing the idea that corporate decisions must align with both customer preferences and shareholder value.
Moving forward, Frericks advocated for a balanced approach to stakeholder capitalism, ensuring the needs and expectations of all stakeholders, including shareholders and customers, are adequately addressed.
Frericks’ call for accountability and a balanced approach to stakeholder capitalism is a valuable lesson for businesses.
By considering customers’ preferences and shareholders’ interests, while also addressing social responsibility, organizations can navigate challenges more effectively and safeguard their reputation.