Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth sent a message to customers on Thursday pledging to focus on the company’s product, not the culture wars, in the future.
In a statement, Whitworth lamented that “discussion surrounding our company and Bud Light has moved away from beer” over the last two months since Bud Light sponsored transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney. The boycott ensuing from that sponsorship has resulted in cratering sales, billions lost in market cap, and Bud Light being dethroned as America’s No. 1 beer.
To rectify impacts of the boycott, Whitworth made three promises to Bud Light stakeholders and customers.
“First, we are investing to protect the jobs of our frontline employees,” he pledged. “Second, we are providing financial assistance to our independent wholesalers to help them support their employees.”
Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth. (LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)
Then, to Anheuser-Busch’s “valued customers,” he declared, “we hear you.”
“Our summer advertising launches next week, and you can look forward to Bud Light reinforcing what you’ve always loved about our brand — that it’s easy to drink and easy to enjoy,” he explained. “As we move forward, we will focus on what we do best — brewing great beer and earning our place in moments that matter to you.”
Noticeably absent from the message was an apology. After all, Anheuser-Busch hired a marketing executive who voiced contempt for Bud Light’s image and thus its core customers. That executive was replaced in the early days of the controversy.
Still, Whitworth is signaling a willingness to listen.
According to Axios, Whitworth is planning to embark on a summer road trip across the U.S., in connection with Bud Light’s sponsorship of Major League Baseball, to listen to customers.
Whether Bud Light can claw back its position as America’s top-selling beer, or whether American customers are willing to listen, remains to be seen. Their voice, thus far, has been heard loud and clear.
A simple — yet powerful — apology would probably go farther with customers than Anheuser-Busch executives think.
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