Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Street
The Street
Daniel Kline

Anheuser-Busch CEO speaks out on Bud Light with no apology

Anheuser-Busch has put itself in an impossible position where it can't make anyone happy. The beermaker alienated a portion of its audience when it decided to partner with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney. The choice was not helped by the brand's former marketing boss calling its customers "fratty."

Many Bud Light drinkers called for boycotts of the still-popular, but no longer top-selling beer in the United States after the Mulvaney deal. In that very small partnership, the beer brand sent the social media influencer some cans with her face on them.

DON'T MISS: Forget Kid Rock: Bud Light faces new outrage

The cans weren't available to the general public. In fact, they weren't sold anywhere. Mulvaney was simply paid to share images of them on her social media page and, in theory, expand Bud Light's popularity in the LGBTQ+ community.

Kid Rock, as you likely know, did not want to drink a beer that also supports transgender people and the LGBTQ+ community, so he shot up cases of the beer in a much-watched video. That, plus the "fratty," comment and other things said on a podcast by former Bud Light Marketing Vice President Alissa Heinerscheid led to sales for the brand dropping by about 26%.

It's a dark chapter where many Bud Light fans want an apology from Anheuser-Busch (BUD) -) CEO Michel Doukeris. The executive has not done that and really can't because what exactly apologize for? Being inclusive? Tolerance? Wanting more people to drink his beer.

The drop in sales has led to the company's stock sitting at $56.18 per share at market close on Sept. 1. The shares slipped 0.7% in August and, as of Sept. 1, were down 5.2% this year.

The current price is basically in the middle of its $44.51-to-$67.09 52-week range, and, despite his seemingly angry customer base, Doukeris does not seem that worried.


Bud Light has been boycotted by some of its former customers.

Image source: Shutterstock

Anheuser-Busch CEO addresses the Bud Light controversy

Bud Light has generally taken a business-as-usual approach to handling the fallout from the Mulvaney scandal. The company has continued to post mostly meaningless things on social media (in the style of "It's the weekend, let's crack open a beer"). The hateful, mocking, and outright transphobic responses have mostly gone away.

The company has also returned to its normal ads and promotions built around college and pro football. Doukeris addressed Bud Light's issues during his company's second-quarter earnings call. First, he did acknowledge a sales drop.

"In the U.S., the beer industry remained resilient delivering revenue growth of 2.3% this quarter and with beer gaining share of value of total alcohol in the first half of 2023. Our revenues declined by 10.5% and STR (sales to retailers) volumes {dropped] by 14% with performance impacted by the decline of the Bud Light brand," he admitted.

But, the CEO does not seem all that worried about the longer-term prospects for Bud Light.

"We have actively engaged with over 17,000 consumers since April, and there are a few clear insights. First, most consumers surveyed are favorable toward the Bud Light brand and approximately 80% are favorable or neutral. The consumer will always be at the center of everything we do," he said.

He did make it clear that the company's mistake was turning the conversation around Bud Light away from light topics and into political/controversial ones. 

"Second, regardless of favorability, our consumers across all sentiment groups have three points of feedback in common. One, they want to enjoy their beer without a debate. Two, they want Bud Light to focus on beer. Three, they want Bud Light to concentrate on the platforms that all consumers love, such as NFL, Fields of Honor, and music," the CEO shared.

The CEO also believes that his company has already seen some recovery.

"We are taking the feedback and working hard toward our consumers' business every day across the world. While our total beer industry share declined by 520 bps this quarter to 36.9%, it has been stable since the last week of April through the end of June," he added.


Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.