Budding controversy: This woke’s for you!
It’s not quite like selling water on the desert, but it comes close.
It is America’s affinity for beer.
Long before the advent of today’s “celebrity spokesman,” no less a celebrated and accomplished figure than Benjamin Franklin described the quest to quench his thirst in theological terms.
The printer, scientist, inventor, statesman and founding father reportedly said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
That’s why it is somewhat strange that Franklin’s Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love” and home of a prominent Ivy League institution, played a contributing role in a recent decision that most beer drinkers hate.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, renowned for its quality of instruction, conferred a Masters of Business Administration degree upon one Alissa Gordon Heinerscheid in 2013. Before attending Wharton for her MBA, Heinerschied earned her BA at Harvard.
In retrospect, it appears that her education at those “Ivies” spawned a form of “poison ivy” in the realm of promotion and marketing.
That political and cultural contagion among elites known as “‘woke’ fever” — a unconcealed contempt for conservative, middle-income, everyday Americans — has led to one of the worst examples of “marketing malpractice” in recent memory.
Heinerschied, now vice president for marketing at Bud Light (at least she still holds that job as this column is being written), made herself right at home on the March 30 podcast, “Make Yourself at Home.” Utilizing that electronic venue, she unveiled her vision to build the Bud Light brand.
The New York Post reported on her mission to emphasize inclusivity: “It means shifting the tone, it means having a campaign that’s truly inclusive … feels lighter and brighter and different, and appeals to women and to men.”
Yet during that same podcast, Heinerschied felt compelled to belittle Bud Light’s previous branding, criticizing the beer’s “base” of beverage loyalists. She demeaned the strategy that led Bud Light to the top-ranking spot for beer sales, calling it “fratty” and based on “out-of-touch humor.”
Then, to prove just how out-of-touch her “woke,” self-promoting, “new-and-improved” branding could be, Heinerscheid took an incredibly foolish step — on April Fools’ Day.
She made the eminently objectionable “pitch person” Dylan Mulvaney a Bud Light “Brand Ambassador.”
Mulvaney has emerged as a self-styled genius at personal promotion in the past year, utilizing the “lifestyle choice” of transgenderism and employing the likewise controversial, Chinese-developed social medium of TikTok to produce a daily series of videos titled “Days of Girlhood.”
But it was on Instagram that Mulvaney unveiled a new type of “March Madness.” Capitalizing on that theme of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, the biological male now “identifying as female” extolled the beer drinking “benefits” of Bud Light.
“This month, I celebrated my Day 365 of ‘womanhood,’ and Bud Light sent me possibly the best gift ever — a can with my face on it!”
Despite undergoing “facial feminization surgery” last December, Mulvaney’s countenance is not “the face that launched a thousand ships,” but it is the visage that cost Bud Light billions.
Whatever the internet success of “Days of Girlhood,” Mulvaney’s efforts as a Bud Light “influencer” only inspired “Days of Rage.”
To say that Bud Light sales were “reduced to a trickle” might be an overstatement. In many locations, purchases of Bud Light completely stopped. Also coming to a halt were any postings on the major social media accounts of Bud Light.
For the record, Bud Light’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch, did provide a statement to Fox News in defense of this marketing debacle, maintaining that it “works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics.”
The statement also described Mulvaney’s one-year “anniversary” of identifying as a female as a “personal milestone.” But for Anheuser-Busch, this is a corporate millstone that could turn the lights off on Bud Light.
What’s likely to happen? A “pink slip” for Heinerschied, a green light to emergency “Brand Resuscitation” for Bud Light, and maybe a rewrite for a saying credited to Ben Franklin: “A Bud Light a day will keep Dylan Mulvaney away.”
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