Former Anheuser-Busch Executive Asks Current CEO to Step Down: ‘He’s Been Paralyzed’

Former Anheuser-Busch Executive Asks Current CEO to Step Down: ‘He’s Been Paralyzed’
Cans of Bud Light chill in a refrigerator in Oakland, Calif., on April 28, 2023. (Jeff Chiu/AP Photo)
Frank Fang

A former Anheuser-Busch executive is calling on Brendan Whitworth, the beer company’s U.S. chief executive officer, to step down from his position over his handling of Bud Light’s partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Anson Frericks, who once was president of sales and distribution for Anheuser-Busch, wrote in a column published by The Daily Mail on July 1 that Whitworth “has clearly shown himself to be incapable of solving the Mulvaney crisis.”

“He’s had multiple chances and he’s failed,” Frericks wrote. “It’s time he did the right thing and stepped aside to make way for someone capable of righting the sinking Bud Light ship.”

The controversy surrounding Bud Light started in April after the company rolled out a personalized beer can featuring the face of Mulvaney. The marketing fiasco has cost Bud Light billions in sales and the beer company lost its top position in the U.S. beer market in May, dethroned by Modelo Especial.
“After all, the beer company’s decision to make trans-activist Dylan Mulvaney the face of Bud Light has cost a staggering $20 billion–and counting–in lost market cap value,” Frericks wrote.


Frericks criticized Anheuser-Busch for giving a “weak and indecisive” response recently, following Mulvaney’s outcry slamming Bud Light for failing to provide support amid the backlash. Frericks added, “Mulvaney did something Whitworth should have had the wisdom to do weeks ago–cut ties.”
Mulvaney, in an Instagram video published on June 29, said, “For a company to hire a trans-person and then not publicly stand by them is worse, in my opinion, than not hiring a trans-person at all because it gives customers permission to be as transphobic and hateful as they want.”

In response to Mulvaney’s remarks, Anheuser-Busch said, “We remain committed to the programs and partnerships we have forged over decades with organizations across a number of communities, including those in the LGBTQ+ community,” without mentioning Mulvaney by name.

“As we move forward, we will focus on what we do best—brewing great beer for everyone and earning our place in moments that matter to our consumers,” Anheuser-Busch added.

“What does that mean?” Frericks asked about Anheuser-Busch’s response. “Absolutely nothing. And it will only deepen the chasm between the brand and its customers.

“As such—and I take no pleasure in passing this judgement—it’s clear to me that it’s time for the shareholders and board of Anheuser-Busch to ask Whitworth to step down.”

The former Anheuser-Busch executive emphasized that he and Whitworth had “a good relationship” before he left on his “own terms” to co-found Strive Asset Management last year.
“So I write this with a heavy heart, not out of spite but because it’s important for Americans to understand how and why corporate leaders can bungle the management of once-iconic American brands so badly, sacrificing countless jobs and invested assets in the process,” Frericks added.


Frericks then brought back Whitworth’s past responses, starting with the CEO’s first statement over Mulvaney in April.

“On April 14th, Whitworth made his first attempt at addressing plunging sales with a flat corporate response that neither mentioned the specific controversy, nor apologized for it,” Frericks wrote. “Instead of helping, it made things even worse: inflaming both the customers who wanted an apology for the campaign—and those who were sympathetic to Mulvaney and wanted to see the company defend the influencer.”

“On June 16th, Whitworth tried again,” Frericks wrote, commenting on the CEO’s statement in light of a weeks-long boycott against the beer company. “But this statement, as bland as the first, only announced additional investments in Bud Light’s summer marketing campaign, support for front line employees and a few weak platitudes telling consumers ‘we hear you’ and ‘here’s to a future with more cheers.”
Finally, Frericks slammed Whitworth’s interview with CBS News on June 28.

“He made his first public appearance since the debacle on CBS Morning News where he was twice asked by hosts if he would send the can to Mulvaney again or if it had been a ‘mistake.’ It was a softball question. He should have belted it out of the park,” Frericks wrote.

Frericks said Whitworth should have openly admitted that the company made a mistake in having Bud Light cans emblazoned with Mulvaney’s face. The former executive then offered an explanation explaining why Whitworth didn’t do so.

“Because he’s been paralyzed by corporate America’s forced adoption of ‘stakeholder’ capitalism, which preaches to companies about why they must serve activists, politicians, non-governmental organizations, and all manner of interests–anyone really apart from their shareholders and customers!”

The Epoch Times has reached out to Anheuser-Busch for comment.

Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
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