Composite screenshot of @CBSMornings Twitter video and @dylanmulvaney Instagram video (Main: Brendan Whitworth)
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The CEO of beer giant Anheuser-Busch sat down for an interview with the hosts of "CBS Mornings" and still refused to say whether the Bud Light partnership with controversial transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney was a mistake.
On Wednesday, Brendan Whitworth, a former Marine and member of the CIA who entered the business world about 15 years ago, joined Gayle King, Tony Dokoupil, and Vladimir Duthiers to discuss the recent consumer backlash against Bud Light after the company sent Mulvaney cans of beer with his face imprinted on them. Mulvaney first shared the customized cans in an Instagram video on April 1, and since then, the company has lost approximately $20 billion in market cap, according to the Daily Mail.
Because of those tremendous losses, Dokoupil pressed Whitworth about the decision to partner with Mulvaney. "Knowing what you know now, if you could go back, would you send this can to this one person again?" Dokoupil asked Whitworth.
Rather than provide a direct answer to Dokoupil's direct question, Whitworth responded by blathering on about a nebulous "social conversation," the role of global corporations, and his company's attempts to "deeply understand and appreciate" the consumer. His answer was so scattered and full of corporate PR jargon that the Daily Mail presumed it must have been "a pre-rehearsed speech."
Dokoupil immediately called Whitworth out for dodging the question, suggesting that Whitworth's vague response would almost certainly anger both the right and LGBTQ advocates. "People on the trans rights side of things, supporting that community, want you to say yes, of course. We want to have that fortitude," Dokoupil said. "And people on the right would criticize you for saying yes. So where are you on the issue?"
Dokoupil then pointedly asked Whitworth once again, "Was this a mistake?"
This time, Whitworth addressed the topic a bit more concretely, mentioning Bud Light's lengthy history of supporting LGBTQ issues and insisting that the company would "continue to support" that community — but still never conceded that the Mulvaney cans were a mistake. "Bud Light has supported LGBTQ since 1998, so that's 25 years," Whitworth stated. "And as we've said from the beginning, we'll continue to support the communities and organizations that we've supported for decades."
Whitworth spent most of the conversation lamenting the impact that the Bud Light boycott has had on Anheuser-Busch employees. "These are farmers, these are brewery workers, these are drivers, merchandisers, sales reps, everybody that brings our industry to life," he said at one point. To help offset some of the financial hit that many of the organization's 65,000 employees have taken in recent weeks, Anheuser-Busch has pledged to increase its investment in Bud Light threefold this year, Whitworth said.
Whitworth also admitted that all Anheuser-Busch marketing decisions — and the consequences of those decisions — ultimately rest with him. "As the CEO, everything we do here, I'm accountable for," he claimed. He then repeatedly stated that the company hopes to "move forward" and return Bud Light to its former legacy as the beer of "good times, goodwill, and easy enjoyment."
The entire interview spans about nine minutes. The exchange between Dokoupil and Whitworth about the Bud Light "marketing boo-boo," as Dokoupil once described it, begins around the 2:05 mark.
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Sr. Editor, News
Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.