- - Thursday, April 20, 2023

I had an oddly strong interest in politics at a young age. As an eight-year-old, I would argue with my sister on Sunday morning before church because I wanted to watch Face the Nation, inhibiting her ability to see reruns of I Love Lucy. 

My father encouraged my early fascination with Washington. He explained to me how, throughout history, the cultural pendulum swings from one extreme to the other. The great thing about the United States, he told me, was that it had a knack for self-correcting, and when things went too far, left or right, society would naturally work its way back toward the center. 

This past week the pendulum may have reached just such a limit and begun a journey back toward the middle. Let me explain. 

In recent years, the left has been pushing an ever-increasingly absurd agenda. Diversity, equity and inclusion are the buzzwords, and anyone who doesn’t genuflect at their woke altar is labeled as hateful and intolerant. It’s been an amazingly effective formula for getting simple average Americans to stay quiet about crazy ideas. 

Gas stoves have been safely and effectively in use for more than 100 years and are in 40% of all kitchens in the United States. In its pursuit of banishing any and all fossil fuels, however, the Biden administration is attempting to take your gas stove, making it out as a health danger. Nutty. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s long-established mission is to protect species and preserve their habitats. Under the current administration, however, the agency has said workers can spend as much paid work time as they want in employee diversity organizations, such as gay rights groups. Fish and Wildlife will pay its people to go work on transgender issues rather than on actually protecting species. Absurd. 

After decades of pushing for equal rights for women, the left has suddenly gone dumb on the definition of what a woman really is. Rather than accept science literally as old as Adam and Eve, the powers that be have declared gender is “fluid,” and people can choose their own sex, maybe even changing it from day to day. 

The result has been chaos. Men claiming to be women are dominating women’s sports. Men claiming to be women are garnering accolades as “the woman of the year.” English grammar is being butchered in an effort to accommodate the whims of a 13-year-old who wants to be referred to as “they,” which, unless they are Siamese twins, defies the very structure of our language. Ridiculous. 

By the very nature of my work, I speak with a lot of people from various walks of life. Some are wealthy and wildly successful. Some are blue-collar working class. Some Black, White, Asian, Hispanic or any of God’s other racial and ethnic creations. Some are elderly, some are youthful, and most fall somewhere in between. Nearly none think the transgender movement is logical, reasonable or rational. Few, however, are willing to speak out publicly for fear of being labeled as some sort of intolerant phobic, and the result is the transgender movement keeps pushing further on.

It appears they may have finally pushed a little too far. We may be seeing the pendulum start to swing back. People stood by and allowed Drag Queens in kindergarten classes, but now, trannies trolling beer? A bridge too far.

Anheuser-Busch has a beer brand you may have heard of called Bud Light. It has reigned at or near the top of beer sales in the United States for years. Like much of the macro-brew market, however, it has faced increasing competition from an explosion of microbreweries and an influx of more imports. 

Despite the challenges, last year, Bud Light took home several Growth Brands Awards, winning for Best Activation Programs, Best Advertising & Promotion Campaigns, Top Sales Drivers and Best New Products for Bud Light Next.

At the time, Bud Light’s VP of Marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid, bragged about their ‘Brewed in Texas’ campaign featuring Cooper Davis, Professional Bull Rider; Rodolfo Pizzaro, Mexican National Team Midfielder; and Teofimo Lopez, World Lightweight Champion Boxer. Very macho stuff, and by no coincidence, award-winning. 

Continuing the masculine theme, 2022 Heinerscheid proudly recalled, “Bud Light was also front and center as the presenting sponsor of the 2022 NFL Draft.  Looking ahead, we’re excited to continue bringing fun to NFL fans as we gear up for the 22-23 season. And what’s a better kickoff beer than our fan-favorite NFL Team Cans?”

In an apparent attempt to answer her own question, Heinerscheid more recently determined the best marketing course of action for the working man’s beer was to promote the transgender agenda, producing beer cans with a transgender activist on them and creating ads with a man, dressed, made up and talking as a woman, sitting in a bathtub, feigning ignorance as to what March Madness NCAA basketball is. The ad is far less likely to win any awards.

Heinerscheid explained her decision this way, “Bud Light had been kind of a brand of fratty, kind of out-of-touch humor, and it was really important that we had another approach.” 

“I’m a businesswoman… if we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand, there will be no future for Bud Light.” 

Knowing your customer is essential to marketing. One would think that understanding the average consumer of light beer is male of a certain age would be elementary. Almost as elementary as using sports and other masculine images to reach that customer. Perhaps most importantly, understanding that putting a man dressed as a woman, pretending to be a woman on your beer cans and in your advertising might alienate those blue-collar middle-aged men. 

Every brand wants to attract new customers, but not at the expense of alienating its existing core. 

The response to the transgender promotion was swift and overwhelming. Kid Rock posted a video shooting up cases of Bud Light. Country star Travis Tritt canceled his contractual relationship with Anheuser-Busch. Country musician John Rich stopped selling Bud Light out of his Nashville bar because demand dropped to zero. Bargoers simply stopped ordering Bud Light.

Most importantly, Anheuser-Busch’s stock tanked, losing $6.6 billion in market value. Billion with a “B.”

Transgender advocates predictably decried the reaction as bullying and declared it was all indicative of transphobia. That isn’t what this is. It’s the U.S. consumer fed up with being force-fed a left-wing agenda that they don’t agree with and finally saying, “Enough.” Just because a beer drinker doesn’t want a man dressed as a woman on his beer can doesn’t mean he hates or fears anyone. It simply means he is making a choice as a consumer. 

Companies are free to do what they wish. Still, a recent Rasmussen poll showed roughly 80% of Americans wished corporate America would focus on their core business and leave political and social agendas out. Every company has a responsibility to its investors and/or shareholders, and maximizing sales should be priority number one. Selling a woke agenda shouldn’t even be on the list.

In an effort to right the ship, Budweiser has introduced a new ad that’s teeming with Americana. The ad features Budweiser’s iconic Clydesdale galloping past notable U.S. landmarks — such as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the Grand Canyon in Arizona — and interspersing patriotic shots such as a couple raising a flag. At the same time, a woman puts her hand over her heart. Despite the fact Heinerscheid is woefully out of touch with her customer; apparently, someone at Anheuser-Busch still understands what appeals to most Americans. 

Let’s hope other corporations have taken note of Bud Light’s embarrassing and costly misstep and move away from the woke agenda, focusing their efforts on their product and customer instead. Let’s hope the Bud Light debacle marks the beginning of the cultural pendulum swinging back toward the center. 

• Tim Constantine is a columnist with the Washington Times.

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