Woke Wars — A Fight To Avoid


Many of us are alternatively aggravated and bemused seeing the “culture wars” waging in our country. Fortunately, the gun business is insulated from the madness, right?

Um, maybe. My thinking changed after Bud Light figuratively fell through the floorboards of the outhouse.

As of this writing, the beer giant has tried to contain the enormous damage of promoting trans-influencer Dylan Mulvaney, but it’s become perhaps the best example in history of ignoring the values of your core audience while playing to a loud but tiny minority. In fact, the former executives responsible for “New Coke” are breathing a sigh of relief that they’ll no longer be brought up as the gold standard of bad marketing decisions.

We all assume such a thing wouldn’t happen in our industry, but I’d point out Budweiser arguably has some of the best sales and marketing talent on the planet and should never fall victim to such hubris. Unfortunately, their ranks have been infected by this stealthy progressive madness sweeping the U.S. faster — and more outlandish — than the 1634 Dutch Tulip Mania.

In our industry, may I point to the growing number of emails I get from marketers who give their preferred pronouns? This itself is a minor secondary data point but it shows some of our colleagues now recognize — or maybe even support — the idea it’s acceptable for a small percentage of the population to call itself the animal/vegetable/mineral of their choosing.

Thus, I predict there will soon come a day when one of the larger gun companies will do something like Budweiser in an ill-advised attempt to be “inclusive.” The scenario I envision is a younger marketing staffer breathlessly proclaiming, “We need to do this to stay relevant with new, younger or progressive shooters. We’ll lose a few customers but we’ll gain truckloads! Maybe double-truckloads!!” Senior officials, knowing they’re hopelessly unhip and don’t understand the whole thing anyway, will grudgingly approve the campaign. Then, when the backlash inevitably roars, it’ll move the Bud Light debacle into second place in the marketing hall of shame.

I roll this scenario out not as a backhanded way to plant my own flag in the whole gender-questioning social debate — you’ve undoubtedly figured out where I stand — but to simply point out: if it happened to Budweiser, it can happen here.

Forgetting the customer is perhaps the cardinal sin of business. Whether you like it or not, their wallet is the ultimate arbiter of whether your choice was a good one. Don’t be cowed into making decisions your common sense tells you will not be well received, regardless of how loud somebody — or a few somebodies — make noise.

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