Instagram / Dylan Mulvaney (left) -Linkedin / Michel Doukeris
Michel Doukeris, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch, has finally disowned Dylan Mulvaney’s Bud Light Instagram post, stating it was “not a campaign.” Doukeris addressed the controversy surrounding the company’s decision to work with Mulvaney, a trans influencer, during an earnings call with investors, claiming there was “misinformation” spreading on social media.
The company also stated that they are “providing direct financial support” to frontline workers affected by the boycott. Bud Light added that it will triple its marketing spend this summer to attract customers back to the brand, which has seen a 26% drop in sales since the Mulvaney partnership. Despite first-quarter earnings of $1.65 billion, Anheuser-Busch has suffered as a result of the partnership.
A letter sent by Grey Eagle, which distributes Anheuser-Busch products, claims that “Anheuser-Busch did not intend to create controversy or make a political statement.”
The Bud Light can that Mulvaney posted on social media was provided by an outside agency without Anheuser-Busch management’s awareness or approval. The lack of oversight and control over marketing decisions has been addressed, and a new VP of Bud Light marketing has been announced.
This is the first time Anheuser-Busch has addressed the backlash in detail. Bud Light’s VP of marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid, took a leave of absence, while the VP for Mainstream Brand, Daniel Blake, stepped down after the controversy erupted. The brewing giant claims that there was no “management awareness” of the campaign.
Todd Allen has been named as the new VP of marketing for Bud Light after Heinerscheid and Blake took a leave of absence. Mulvaney posted a video of herself drinking Bud Light at the start of April 2023, using the hashtag #budlightpartner, implying that she was paid for the partnership. However, Anheuser-Busch now claims that the beer can and social media posts were not meant for production or sale to the general public.
The Mulvaney partnership has had a significant impact on Anheuser-Busch, which lost more than $6 billion in market capitalization in just six days after the post on April 1.
Robert Lachky, a former chief creative officer at Anheuser-Busch, has called the decision to use Mulvaney a “calamitous mistake.” He claimed that the marketing strategy changed after Bud Light was bought by Belgian-based InBev in 2009 when non-US teams were brought in.
According to Daily Mail, Lachky added, “None of these marketing folks has ever been to a NASCAR race, none has been to a football game or a rodeo. That’s insanity. That’s marketing incompetence.”
Anheuser-Busch hired two former GOP aides on the same day it went public with Mulvaney’s video. The full impact of the boycott on the company’s finances still remains unclear.
However, Anheuser-Busch’s shares have risen 6% since the beginning of the year and 12% in the last 12 months, with the company posting revenue of $14.21 billion in the first quarter of 2023.