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Op-Ed: The Simple Lesson From Disney, Bud Light Fiascos Is Too Obvious

As a former CEO and a former corporate communications executive, we offer a suggestion for just about any business

This article was authored by Andy Puzder and Andy Olivastro for on September 14, 2023

When your company’s market cap drops about 15 percent in five months despite a billionaire’s efforts to prop it up, you’ve got a problem. That’s where Anheuser-Busch InBev ("AB") finds itself after leftist crusader Bill Gates’ family foundation invested $95 million in 1.7 million AB shares in the second quarter of this year. At the beginning of that quarter, AB entered into a controversial partnership with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney, sending Mulvaney, a biological male, custom beer cans to mark "365 days of girlhood." It was a public relations (and financial) fiasco.

Then there’s Disney, which has cut 7,000 jobs since 2021. The once family friendly brand has also watched its market cap drop about 40% since March of 2022, when Disney management went public with its opposition to a Florida parental rights bill and disclosed its intent to include woke sexual ideology in its content for children. Yep, Disney did that.

As a former CEO and a former corporate communications executive, we respectfully offer a suggestion for just about any business: Don’t offend your target market. That may sound obvious, but apparently it’s not. As AB’s and Disney’s results demonstrate, when management teams put politics over profits, "woke" ideology over brand image and customers’ loyalty, the consequences can be costly.

You have to wonder what the management team at Disney was thinking. With its theme parks and family friendly movies, Disney dominated the family entertainment marketplace for decades. An invaluable key to its success was that parents trusted Disney with their children. "It’s OK for the kids to watch, it’s a Disney movie" used to be a common parental refrain. That kind of trust is not something you willingly put at risk. You can’t get it back.

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