A former Anheuser-Busch executive spoke out Monday about the financial hit the company has taken since it partnered with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney back in April, telling FOX Business he was stunned by the CEO’s lack of coherent response.
Anson Frericks, the former president of operations, told “The Claman Countdown” he was “shocked” by how much money the company has lost.
“I think I’m even more shocked, though, about the lack of clear response that the current CEO has delivered during this crisis,” Frericks said.
He argued Anheuser-Bush CEO Brendan Whitworth has had three chances to get customers back. His most recent opportunity was the Fourth of July weekend, which Frericks said was the “number one beer-selling week of the year.”
Whitworth joined “CBS Mornings” in late June to address the boycotts and backlash the company has received but declined to say if he would, in hindsight, allow the partnership to happen again.
“There’s a big social conversation taking place right now, and big brands are right in the middle of it and it’s not just our industry or Bud Light. It’s happening in retail, happening in fast food. And so for us what we need to understand is — deeply understand and appreciate — is the consumer and what they want, what they care about and what they expect from big brands,” the CEO said.
Frericks on Monday told “Claman Countdown” guest host Cheryl Casone that Whitworth should have knocked the question “out of the park.”
He explained that Whitworth should have said, “Of course, this [partnership] was a mistake.’”
“‘We wouldn’t do this again ’cause we’ve lost billions of dollars of market cap. Our brands are down almost 30%, and all of a sudden, we’re putting a lot of our suppliers at risk, and they’re laying off hundreds of people from jobs at some of their suppliers.’ There’s going to be more employees at risk if we don’t find a CEO who can somehow address the situation, get those customers back that were always loyal to Bud Light and move this company forward,” Frericks added.
Axios reported that Modelo Especial overtook Bud Light as the top beer seller in the U.S. in May.
Frericks said Anheuser-Busch needs a CEO that can come up with a clear vision for the company and the brand.
“[Bud Light] was the largest brand in the U.S. because it was remarkably apolitical. It was always about sports, it was always about music, it was about bringing people together. That’s why it was a mistake that they did this campaign in the first place because they were unable to come out,” he said.
“This campaign was a mistake. Anheuser-Busch will not be doing campaigns like this moving forward. We’ll get back to the things that bring everybody together. Hopefully that can protect the jobs at Anheuser-Busch, jobs at wholesalers and get this company back growing in the right direction.”
The former president of operations said Bud Light could be moving in a different direction as a brand and could take the path of Ben & Jerry’s.
“Ben & Jerry’s is very clear on their website that they support things like defund the police initiatives,” Frericks explained. “They try and overturn election integrity laws. They recently said the U.S. should give back land to the Native Americans…where Mt. Rushmore is housed. Ben & Jerry’s, at least they’re clear about that. Bud Light has never been… That’s not even part of Bud Light’s social brand or social mission.”
“I think that’s what has a lot of customers upset. They were never involved in these controversies before. And if I think about what they need to be doing moving forward, it’s just being clear. Are they going to move in the direction of Ben & Jerry’s or are you just going to harken back to what Bud Light always was, which is a great beer that was great to drink at football games and didn’t necessarily become part of the debate?” he said.