Anheuser-Busch Held Top Score in Industry Ranking - Now It's Been Delisted and Stripped of Awards
The Dylan Mulvaney/Bud Light campaign should prove just one thing to every corporate executive across America’s fruited plain when it comes to wading into the culture war: You’re damned if you do, but you’re especially damned if you do and then claim you didn’t.
Before the campaign, Anheuser-Busch InBev held a 100 score on the index of the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-LGBT group. They couldn’t get a 100+, apparently, since no gold star was added to their ranking. They should have gotten plenty of them, given that the campaign with transgender “influencer” Mulvaney has, so far, cost the beer roughly a quarter of its sales volume.
Now, nobody has explicitly apologized for the Mulvaney campaign or cut the influencer loose. Anheuser-Busch CEO Michel Doukeris did, however, tell investors that anyone who calls the Mulvaney campaign an actual campaign is engaging in “misinformation,” telling them during an earnings call earlier this month that the company wanted “to clarify the facts that this was one can, one influencer, one post and not a campaign.”
The company has placed the executives responsible for the campaign on leave and has put out a series of ultra-patriotic ads designed, one assumes, to distract from anything Mulvaney-related.
— Budweiser (@budweiserusa) April 14, 2023
Not that this helped; as the New York Post reported Tuesday, Bud Light sales were still down 23.6 percent on the week that ended May 6, a steeper decline in year-over-year sales than the brand had experienced during the prior two weeks.
And now, according to USA Today, the Human Rights Campaign might be about to dock Anheuser-Busch InBev for trying to placate the conservative, blue-collar Bud Light drinkers who walked away after the brand shoved its values into their faces.
“In a May 9 letter shared exclusively with USA TODAY, the Human Rights Campaign informed the Bud Light maker that it has suspended its Corporate Equality Index score – a tool that scores companies on their policies for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees,” the outlet reported Thursday.
“Companies that receive a 100 score on the index’s four criteria – protections from workplace discrimination, inclusive benefits, inclusive culture inside and outside the workplace and responsible citizenship – receive a ‘Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality’ seal of approval from the Human Rights Campaign.”
If the company doesn’t respond to the letter within 90 days, the outlet reported, their suspended score could be docked.
According to Eric Bloem, senior director for the HRC’s programs and corporate advocacy, said the letter was prompted by the company’s backpedaling over the Mulvaney campaign.
“Anheuser-Busch had a key moment to really stand up and demonstrate the importance of their values of diversity, equity and inclusion and their response really fell short,” Bloem said.
What did Anheuser-Busch have to say about the HRC’s letter? Admittedly not much, just addressing the complaint by noting it had employee resource groups for LGBT employees.
“Our ERGs are intended to be a safe space for those who identify with a given community and those who wish to be allies,” the company told USA Today.
Now, what can taking away a perfect score do to a company? Probably not much; Netflix seems to have survived after it was downgraded over Dave Chappelle’s 2021 stand-up special “The Closer,” which became a leftist target after the comedian didn’t kowtow to the HRC’s line. Bud Light taking a 23.6 percent sales hit is a far more existential threat to Anheuser-Busch employees than the company whiffing on what HRC deemed “a key moment to really stand up and demonstrate the importance of their values of diversity, equity and inclusion.”
However, the backlash from an LGBT pressure group indicates the dangers of wading into the culture war to begin with — and the takeaway for conservatives, as well.
If Anheuser-Busch had simply passed on the Mulvaney campaign, none of this would have happened in the first place. There would be no challenge to their perfect HRC 100 percent index score. But when the campaign backfired royally and they needed to do damage control with conservative customers, that damage control got labeled as “transphobia” by the folks at HRC — because apparently, a wide swath of American beer drinkers are raging bigots in their book.
And, as for conservatives, please take note that the Dylan Mulvaney campaign is how woke corporations operate when you aren’t paying attention to their advertisement campaigns. We seem to have drawn a bright red line at using woke influencers as spokespeople without realizing that the woke die was cast a long time before Mulvaney’s mug popped up on a tallboy. This is a company that toed the woke line despite not having a beer-drinking customer base that supported this kind of wokeness.
Once the company’s values leaked into its advertising, suddenly people were alarmed — without realizing AB InBev was this kind of company all along. Not only that, but plenty of us buy products from companies with the same internal value system, assuming we don’t work for them ourselves.
It’s not enough just to switch beers, in other words. The Bud Light/Dylan Mulvaney fiasco proved that not only could conservatives vote with their dollars, but that we had more clout than we imagined. That clout, however, can’t just be used against companies unwise enough to partner with woke TikTokkers on lame “inclusivity” promotions. By that point, the rot is already terminal. With that in mind, it’s time for those who believe corporate America shouldn’t be treating its customers like they’re at a DEI seminar to stand up against creeping cultural leftism in all of its forms — preferably before it reaches the ad-campaign stage.
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