What’s the next move for Anheuser-Busch? Former exec weighs in after ‘woke’ VP’s leave of absence

A former Anheuser-Busch executive reacted to the alcoholic beverage giant’s efforts to mitigate the damage over the Dylan Mulvaney Bud Light catastrophe and the news that the “woke” vice president of marketing, who was responsible for the costly blunder, has taken a leave of absence amid the raging controversy and ongoing boycotts of the popular brand.

The decision to bring in a transgender TikTok influencer at a time of growing national backlash against the sexualizing of children which, fair or not, has been associated by many with the trans community, to hawk Bud Light without consideration of the impact that such ads would have on longtime customers will likely be a mistake that will be taught in business schools for decades, and it appears to have cost Harvard-educated Alissa Heinerscheid her job, even if it isn’t technically being called a firing.

(Video: Fox News)

On Sunday’s edition of “Fox & Friends Weekend,” host Will Cain talked with Anson Frericks, a man who worked for Anheuser-Busch for over a decade and who discussed the fallout from the Mulvaney debacle as well as what could be in the future for the company as it seeks to triage on its wounded brand after the now departed marketing exec tried to turn the company into a “transgender advocacy group” with catastrophic results.

Responding to Cain’s question about the damage to Budweiser as a result of stakeholder capitalism, or “woke” corporatism, Frericks gave his expert take.

“It’s no surprise the brand is down double digits over the last couple of weeks,” he said. “I don’t think anybody’s necessarily happy that Bud Light, a traditionally apolitical brand, partnered with somebody who’s very controversial and that’s one of the problems we’re in the situation that we are and one of the reasons that Anheuser-Busch has started to make moves to move beyond their current marketing team.”

“That said, 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,” Frericks added.” 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 into companies like Anheuser-Busch via 401 (k)s or their pension plans,” he continued. “And those companies, they reward those shareholders by creating great products and services, servicing those customers and brands.”

“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,” he said, referring to the takeover of corporations by “woke” leftist politics. “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.”

“Alissa Heinerscheid, marketing VP for the brand since June 2022, has taken a leave of absence, the brewer confirmed, and will be replaced by Todd Allen, who was most recently global marketing VP for Budweiser,” according to AdAge magazine, a sign that many believe is an acknowledgment of the error as well as necessary to move forward.

Asked by Cain whether customers are going to forgive and forget and whether that’s what the big “woke” investors are betting on.

“That’s the bet they’re making. I think that’s the wrong bet to make. And I think now is the time to go back, and, for companies like Anheuser-Busch to say that, hey, moving forward for brands like Bud Light, we’re not going to be political. We’re not going to get involved in the Environmental Social Governance movement, because that’s not what the customer wants,” Frericks said.

“What the customer wants with Bud Light is they want to have things that bring us together,” he added. “They want humor. They want the Dilly Dilly guys, they want football. They want the things that bind us together as coequal citizens here, not necessarily having Bud Light get involved in political controversies that tear us apart.”

Cain begged to differ.

“My belief is they won’t change until the customer forces the change and I don’t know, I tend to think that people won’t forget this time with Bud Light,” he said.

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