Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Bud Light, is facing declining sales and backlash over its association with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. During an earnings call on Thursday, Michel Doukeris, the top executive of the company, attempted to disavow its ties with Mulvaney, insisting that it was only one can, one influencer and one post and not a campaign. The controversy began when Mulvaney posted a photo with a Bud Light while in a bathtub on TikTok, drawing ire from conservative regions of the country and prompting calls for a boycott of the brand.
Bud Light sales plummet 21% after transgender influencer controversy
Sales of Bud Light have since plunged, with a 21% drop during the week ending April 22 compared to the same period last year, according to industry data. This marks an acceleration from a 17% slide the previous week, and an initial weekly drop of 6% when the controversy started during the first week of April. Doukeris acknowledged the impact of the backlash, stating that the company was providing direct financial support to delivery drivers, wholesalers, and bar owners who were affected by it.
However, the disavowal of Mulvaney’s association with Bud Light has not put an end to the controversy. Critics accused the company of pandering in an attempt to regain consumer trust following the backlash. Bud Light released a countrified YouTube ad showing young beer drinkers enjoying themselves at a country music festival in an effort to win back hearts and minds. The ad premiered during the live airing of the NFL Draft on ABC and ESPN and has faced criticism for being an insincere attempt at reconciliation.
The controversy has also prompted Bud Light to place two marketing executives, Alissa Heinerscheid, the vice president of marketing, and her boss, Daniel Blake, on leave. Bud Light CEO Brendan Whitworth had offered a flat apology on April 14, promising to learn, meet the moment in time, and bring people together over a beer. Doukeris echoed this apology during the earnings call, stating that the company would work tirelessly to create a future of more cheers.
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The situation is still evolving, and it remains to be seen how Anheuser-Busch will handle the fallout from the controversy. The disavowal of Mulvaney’s association with the brand has not stopped calls for a boycott, and Bud Light’s declining sales show that the damage has already been done. The company may need to take further action to regain consumer trust and avoid a further decline in sales.