Anheuser-Busch CEO Delivers Flat Apology; Bud Light’s Boycott Might Not Last Long
Anheuser-Busch (AB) InBev — the owner of America’s top-selling Bud Light — has been facing heavy backlash since its Apr. 1 influencer campaign with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Factories across the US received bomb threats, and consumers and celebrities like Kid Rock and Travis Tritt have boycotted the brand.
On Friday, AB’s CEO broke his silence and issued astatement titled “Our Responsibility To America,” — which only continued to brew up a storm.
- The CEO of advocacy non-profit TransLash says it was seen as AB second-guessing the promotion (BBG).
- “I honestly think this was worse than saying nothing” — just pro-longing the news cycle, per beer columnist Dave Infante (Vox).
Bud Light goes flat
The Bud Light brand — one of many owned by Anheuser-Busch — has been in decline for years (alongside beer popularity).
- Between 2011 and 2021, AB’s US market share declined from 46.9% to 38.6%.
- In the US, 2021 was the 12th consecutive year beer lost market share to spirits.
On a March podcast, AB’s VP of Marketing said, “If we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand, there will be no future for Bud Light.”
One analyst estimated that Bud Light’s sales could fall $700M from the backlash. But past boycotts had limited impact on brands — remember #CancelSpotify or #BoycottGoya?
All PR is good PR?
In the 11 days after the video was posted, Bud Light was mentioned 1.08M times on social media — over 50x the mentions 11 days before.
Per WSJ, past boycotts often have minimal long-term consequences on a company’s sales. And Lupine Creative’s CEO Kate Wolff thinks “Bud Light just needs to withstand the 72-hour media storm.”