The Wall Street Journal this week opined that the recent marketing dustup facing Bud Light and its association with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney represents a cautionary tale for brands pondering the benefits of chiming in on social issues.

The Journal suggests the controversy “could cause brands to rethink whether and how they address contentious social issues.”

This assertion might be reasonable in the heat of the moment. But history suggests Bud Light’s current woes won’t mark the end of companies and brands engaging in sensitive topics. Employees, consumers, and other stakeholders increasingly want to understand how companies, brands, and their leaders feel about issues important to them.

So, the question is not simply, “should we, or shouldn’t we?” Instead, c-suite executives, communicators, and marketers must ask, “when and how should we?” At Alpha Advisory Group, we believe these corporate communication decisions should be based on three important factors.

  1. Consider the stakeholders you serve. Your employees, customers and investors certainly have their own opinions about societal issues and may ask you to share your opinion. Think about them and the degree to which individual issues matter to them as you debate the decision to weigh in. The more important an issue is to your stakeholders, the more compelling the rationale becomes for engaging.
  2. Remain true to who you are. Over time, companies and brands build a track record that shapes how they’re perceived. The values they articulate, the actions they take and even the products or services they offer all color what their stakeholders expect of them in good and bad times. Taking a stand on something where there’s no track record will ring inauthentic. Failing to take a stand where there is a track record will undo goodwill built over time.
  3. Back words with action. If you position yourself as an ally to a particular group or cause, you must be prepared to do more than just vocalize your support. If you claim to support diversity, for example, make sure the makeup of your leadership team reflects this. If you espouse the importance of voting, implement programs that allow your employees to have time to vote on election day.

Taking a stand doesn’t necessarily mean issuing a press release or posting something on your social channels. Sometimes the decision might be to share a point of view directly with employees or customers, but not making a public statement or stand. At other times, you may be asked to elaborate and should be prepared to do so.

When you take a stand, stick with it. Engaging in challenging topics comes with proportional risk. If you stand up, then capitulate under opposition, you will alienate everyone.

This is perhaps the most salient lesson to be learned from Bud Light: If you waver from one side of the issue to the other, you alienate stakeholders on both sides.

At Alpha Advisory Group, we can help companies, brands and their communicators establish guidelines for whether and when to engage in issues. Always, our approach will revolve around the three factors outlined above. Reach out if you need support.


About Alpha Advisory Group:  The Alpha Companies, including Alpha Advisory Group and Alpha IR Group, bring deep sector expertise and senior-driven programs focused on clients’ most critical stakeholders.  The firm’s work includes strategic investor relations consulting, corporate reputation advisory, stakeholder communications research, as well as transactions and special situations counsel. Alpha is the right choice to manage clients’ reputations, credibility, and ultimately, their corporate brand. The Alpha Companies are headquartered in Chicago, with offices in New York, Boston, and Dallas. The Alpha Companies serve clients across all industries and through multiple inflection points in the business cycle. Additional information about Alpha IR and Alpha Advisory can be found at



Dan Faust, Sales & Marketing Associate

Alpha Advisory Group, LLC

(312) 445-2870