Kamikaze Marketing: Why One Corporation After Another Is Falling on Its Woke Sword

A while back, I covered the mysterious CEI scores that seemed to be the root of Budweiser’s poorly thought-out marketing campaign with transgender TikToker Dylan Mulvaney. Budweiser and its parent company, Anheuser Busch, have since lost more than $15.7 billion dollars in revenue, a number that is almost unfathomable to most of us.

You’d think that this would be a cautionary tale about what the average folks in America want. You’d think this would stop marketing firms in the tracks before making a similar move.

You’d be wrong.

It has people saying, “What on earth are they thinking?” as it happens again and again. That’s what this article is all about. What they’re thinking. Because “go woke, go broke” is not actually as clear-cut as we might think. The apparent suicide missions may not be quite as deadly as expected.

The conclusions in this article may not be popular. But when I begin researching to answer a question I’ve posed, I have an obligation to share my findings honestly, whether I like those findings or not.

Since the Bud Light fiasco, one company after another has followed suit.
Since that ill-considered partnership, it seems like huge companies are following Anheuser Busch off the exact same cliff in a mission of corporate suicide.

  • Actually, it started before the Bud Light campaign. Notably, Hershey’s celebrated International Woman’s Day by putting a photo of a person who was not born a woman on a candy bar wrapper with a label that said Her/She.
  • Calvin Klein, a company well known for suggestive ads featuring buff, sculpted models in proactive poses, changed course with an ad that appeared in 2022 but has recently resurfaced. This time, they advertised their bras and undergarments with a “pre-surgery” transgender person with a beard and breasts that had not yet been removed at the time of the shoot.
  • Nike immediately partnered with Mulvaney, a biological male, to advertise sports bras and women’s athletic wear. Many women were outraged since this took away promotional opportunities for biological female athletes. As well, Mulvaney’s clip was far from athletic.

To be clear, I’m not picking on Mulvaney. The TikToker just happens to be the paid partner in more than one of these controversies. Most people who make a living as an influencer would accept a lucrative offer. I don’t endorse violence or hatred toward those who have made choices I don’t understand. It’s the offer itself with which I take issue.

  • Miller, owned by Molson-Coors, quickly came into the spotlight after Anheuser Busch with an ad apologizing for using women in bikinis in previous advertising campaigns. This ad was actually aired in March, before the Bud Light fiasco. Molson-Coors claims the ad was satirical and stood behind their marketing person.
  • Soon came an ad from Adidas featuring an unnamed, very obviously biological male model in a women’s swimsuit. The advertisement drew backlash for “erasing women” and resulted in an outcry for a “Bud Light moment,” referring to the beer boycott.

What in the world is going on here?