The Woke Wreck: How Anheuser-Busch's Misstep Led To A Brand Crisis
Anheuser-Busch’s misguided venture into ‘woke’ marketing with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney has backfired spectacularly, shaking the very foundations of its flagship brand, Bud Light. Its misstep is a harrowing lesson in losing touch with your core audience. The result? A staggering drop in sales and a 13.5% revenue nosedive. As their U.S. marketing chief exits, it’s clear: this was more than a failed campaign; it was a profound miscalculation of the public pulse, leading to a crisis of brand identity and trust. In today’s razor-edge market, Anheuser-Busch’s fiasco is a stark reminder that ignoring the values of your customer base can lead to disastrous consequences.
Bud Light sales still suffering months after controversial partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney
Anheuser-Busch InBev's top marketing executive in the U.S. is set to depart the company, several months after its Bud Light brand's controversial partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney sparked a boycott that continues to hurt sales.
AB on Wednesday announced that Benoit Garbe, the brewing giant's U.S. chief marketing officer, will resign at the end of the year "to embark on a new chapter in his career," and chief commercial officer Kyle Norrington will be taking over all aspects of marketing, including "brand plans and portfolio strategy."
"This week we announced key changes to our U.S. leadership team that reduce layers within our organization and better enable our top commercial leaders to drive our business and legacy forward," Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth said in a statement. "These senior leadership changes will accelerate our return to growth as we continue to focus on what we do best — brewing great beer for everyone and earning our place in moments that matter."
According to Garbe's bio on the AB website, he has served as a "strategic advisor" at the company for a decade, and his LinkedIn profile indicates that he took over as chief marketing officer in September 2021.
Sales of Bud Light began to tumble in the U.S. in April, not long after the brand created and sent custom beer cans to Mulvaney to mark her "365 days of girlhood." That move and comments from Bud Light's marketing vice president at the time, Alissa Heinerscheid — who said she wanted to update the "fratty" and "out of touch" brand — sparked calls from conservative influencers and celebrities to shun the brand, and the boycott took hold.
Last month, AB InBev reported a staggering 13.5% decline in U.S. revenue in the third quarter as Bud Light sales continued to suffer. However, the company has embarked on a mission to rehabilitate the brand's image, and appears optimistic about earning back former customers.
During last month's earnings call, CEO Michel Doukeris told investors that internal polling shows 40% of Bud Light drinkers who ditched the brand say they would consider returning to it.
Singer-songwriter Kid Rock, who famously recorded himself shooting up cases of Bud Light with a semi-automatic rifle shortly after the boycott launched, told FOX News' Sean Hannity this week that he is ready to "let the thing go" for the sake of workers whose livelihoods are being hurt amid remaining backlash against the brand.
"As a conservative, more importantly a patriot, I don't want to be in the party of canceled cultures and boycotts that ultimately hurt working-class people that have no dogs, especially in this fight," Rock said. "As a God-fearing man, as a Christian, I gotta believe in forgiveness. They made a mistake, all right. Do you want to hold their head underwater and drown them and kill people's jobs? I don't want to do that."
Still, he added, "I hope at the same time — I'm not their biggest, I don't want to be their biggest cheerleader — it's like, I want them to show me something to get me back."
Originally published by: Breck Dumas on FOX Business