But Anson Frericks, who was Anheuser-Busch’s president of U.S. operations until last year, said that logic didn’t necessarily hold for his former company: a behemoth of a brand with a customer base that was historically divided more or less evenly between the two sides of the country’s increasingly stark partisan divide, and with an identity associated more with Clydesdales, Americana and humorous Super Bowl commercials than social justice.
“There’s an authenticity element to what Ben & Jerry’s does,” said Mr. Frericks, who is now co-founder and president with Mr. Ramaswamy of Strive Asset Management, an investment firm that has positioned itself against the trend toward socially and environmentally conscious investing.
“When you have these large corporations that have a historic brand identity, it just looks inauthentic when they’re all of a sudden getting involved in these social campaigns.” Anheuser-Busch, he argued, had “lost track of the consumer.”
The company’s backtracking, though, has left it with few defenders.
“This was their opportunity to say, ‘We do stand with the L.G.B.T.Q. community and specifically the trans community,’” said Stacy Lentz, the chief executive of the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative, the philanthropic foundation of the historic gay bar in Manhattan.
Ms. Lentz is also a co-owner of Stonewall Inn, which refused to sell Anheuser-Busch products during Pride weekend two years ago over the company’s support of Republican lawmakers it considered anti-L.G.B.T.Q. She said the boycott had led to heartening conversations with representatives from the company, and she had been further encouraged by the promotion involving Ms. Mulvaney — and dismayed by its retreat from it.
“They were going after the younger generation,” she said. “But that’s a really hard thing to do on a marketing level, to be all things to all people. And it failed massively.”