Anheuser-Busch to Invest Heavily in Marketing After Bud Light Transgender Controversy

Anheuser-Busch is reportedly planning to invest in a major marketing campaign for Bud Light after getting involved in a transgender ad controversy. The beer company is promising beverage distributors they will avoid similar touchy subjects, the New York Post learned. America’s largest beer giant saw its sales plummet after its Bud Light brand partnered with transgender personality Dylan Mulvaney, prompting a boycott from millions of drinkers. Bud Light is struggling to recover after it sent Mulvaney a personalized pack of beer with his face on it as part of an ad campaign for the company’s March Madness contest and to celebrate the one-year anniversary since he began calling himself a woman. The controversy went viral on April 1 when the 26-year-old Mulvaney released videos on social media of himself showing off a can of Bud Light in a bubble bath with his image on it. The virtue-signaling misjudgment resulted in sales of Bud Light plunging 17 percent during the week ended April 15. Anheuser-Busch lost some $5 billion in market value alongside calls for a nationwide boycott, with bars and distributors across the country reporting a significant drop in Bud Light sales. The company hired Origin Advocacy consultants Sean McLean and Emily Lynch to advise on “general policy regarding the alcohol-beverage industry,” according to lobbying disclosure reports filed with the U.S. Senate on April 1. Bud Light Meets With Distributors to Revive Sales In a series of private Zoom meetings with beer distributors this month, Bud Light promised “there will be an improved screening process before any marketing hits the public,” a beer distributor told The New York Post. “Executives will have to go through a more rigorous screening process,” said the distributor. Benj Steinman, editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights, told the New York Post that Anheuser-Busch executives met with distributors on April 24 for a closed-door meeting in Washington, D.C. He said that the company told those in attendance that it will also “spend heavily on the brand after spending fell off a cliff last year.” Steinman wrote an April 26 letter to clients that the company “did promise to spend lotsa dough on Bud Light [marketing] this spring and summer, starting with big push this week for the NFL draft,” the New York Post reported. The meeting “wasn’t that productive and the distributors were hoping for more concrete plans” on how to stop the backlash against Bud Light, Steinman said, adding, “they want to put this behind them.” “Wholesalers have long felt that Anheuser-Busch was too focused on innovation and not enough on their bread-and-butter brands,” he said. Despite the effort, many of Anheuser-Busch’s 400 distributors left the meeting frustrated for failure by the company to apologize for “what they’ve gone through and the lost business they’ve had to deal with,” reported Beer Business Daily, an industry newsletter. Transgender Ad Backlash Leads to Marketing Team Firings The backlash has led Bud Light to shake up its marketing team, with Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth publishing a lengthy statement in hopes of calming down anger directed at Bud Light and its parent company. Earlier this week, the two marketing executives responsible for the transgender campaign, Bud Light’s vice president of marketing Alissa Heinerscheid and her boss, Daniel Blake, were put on leave. “Given the circumstances, Alissa has decided to take a leave of absence, which we support,” an Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal. “Daniel has also decided to take a leave of absence.” It is unclear if Todd Allen, the global vice president of Budweiser, would permanently replace Heinerscheid, who was hired last June. No replacement has been announced for Blake, who has worked at Anheuser-Busch for almost nine years. Heinerscheid was interviewed on the podcast “Make Yourself at Home” a day before the campaign announcement, where she discussed her plans to transform the brand from one marked by “fratty” and “out of touch” humor to one that embraces “inclusivity.” “I’m a businesswoman. I had a really clear job to do when I took over Bud Light, and it was, ‘This brand is in decline, it’s been in a decline for a really long time, and if we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand, there will be no future for Bud Light,’” Heinerscheid said. However, her statements combined with her Delvaney ads did not sit well with the base of Bud Light’s fans, who are mostly conservative men. The situation was further inflamed when Whitworth, released an April 14 statement: “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people … We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.” Beer drinkers slammed the weak response as a non-apology. “I’m hoping that the message, no matter how they convey it, gets to the retailer and the consumer, because we are starting to feel the impact,” a Northeast-based distributor tol

Anheuser-Busch to Invest Heavily in Marketing After Bud Light Transgender Controversy

Anheuser-Busch is reportedly planning to invest in a major marketing campaign for Bud Light after getting involved in a transgender ad controversy.

The beer company is promising beverage distributors they will avoid similar touchy subjects, the New York Post learned.

America’s largest beer giant saw its sales plummet after its Bud Light brand partnered with transgender personality Dylan Mulvaney, prompting a boycott from millions of drinkers.

Bud Light is struggling to recover after it sent Mulvaney a personalized pack of beer with his face on it as part of an ad campaign for the company’s March Madness contest and to celebrate the one-year anniversary since he began calling himself a woman.

The controversy went viral on April 1 when the 26-year-old Mulvaney released videos on social media of himself showing off a can of Bud Light in a bubble bath with his image on it.

The virtue-signaling misjudgment resulted in sales of Bud Light plunging 17 percent during the week ended April 15.

Anheuser-Busch lost some $5 billion in market value alongside calls for a nationwide boycott, with bars and distributors across the country reporting a significant drop in Bud Light sales.

The company hired Origin Advocacy consultants Sean McLean and Emily Lynch to advise on “general policy regarding the alcohol-beverage industry,” according to lobbying disclosure reports filed with the U.S. Senate on April 1.

Bud Light Meets With Distributors to Revive Sales

In a series of private Zoom meetings with beer distributors this month, Bud Light promised “there will be an improved screening process before any marketing hits the public,” a beer distributor told The New York Post.

“Executives will have to go through a more rigorous screening process,” said the distributor.

Benj Steinman, editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights, told the New York Post that Anheuser-Busch executives met with distributors on April 24 for a closed-door meeting in Washington, D.C.

He said that the company told those in attendance that it will also “spend heavily on the brand after spending fell off a cliff last year.”

Steinman wrote an April 26 letter to clients that the company “did promise to spend lotsa dough on Bud Light [marketing] this spring and summer, starting with big push this week for the NFL draft,” the New York Post reported.

The meeting wasn’t that productive and the distributors were hoping for more concrete plans” on how to stop the backlash against Bud Light, Steinman said, adding, “they want to put this behind them.”

“Wholesalers have long felt that Anheuser-Busch was too focused on innovation and not enough on their bread-and-butter brands,” he said.

Despite the effort, many of Anheuser-Busch’s 400 distributors left the meeting frustrated for failure by the company to apologize for “what they’ve gone through and the lost business they’ve had to deal with,” reported Beer Business Daily, an industry newsletter.

Transgender Ad Backlash Leads to Marketing Team Firings

The backlash has led Bud Light to shake up its marketing team, with Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth publishing a lengthy statement in hopes of calming down anger directed at Bud Light and its parent company.

Earlier this week, the two marketing executives responsible for the transgender campaign, Bud Light’s vice president of marketing Alissa Heinerscheid and her boss, Daniel Blake, were put on leave.

“Given the circumstances, Alissa has decided to take a leave of absence, which we support,” an Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal. “Daniel has also decided to take a leave of absence.”

It is unclear if Todd Allen, the global vice president of Budweiser, would permanently replace Heinerscheid, who was hired last June.

No replacement has been announced for Blake, who has worked at Anheuser-Busch for almost nine years.

Heinerscheid was interviewed on the podcast “Make Yourself at Home” a day before the campaign announcement, where she discussed her plans to transform the brand from one marked by “fratty” and “out of touch” humor to one that embraces “inclusivity.”

“I’m a businesswoman. I had a really clear job to do when I took over Bud Light, and it was, ‘This brand is in decline, it’s been in a decline for a really long time, and if we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand, there will be no future for Bud Light,’” Heinerscheid said.

However, her statements combined with her Delvaney ads did not sit well with the base of Bud Light’s fans, who are mostly conservative men.

The situation was further inflamed when Whitworth, released an April 14 statement: “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people … We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”

Beer drinkers slammed the weak response as a non-apology.

“I’m hoping that the message, no matter how they convey it, gets to the retailer and the consumer, because we are starting to feel the impact,” a Northeast-based distributor told the New York Post.

America’s Largest Beer Brand to Boost Ad Spending

Bud Light has been losing market share for years since Anheuser-Busch slashed spending on the brand over the past four years, according to industry experts.

In 2022, Anheuser-Busch spent $10 million marketing Bud Light from January through July, compared with $183 million in 2018.

Bud Light spending was $125 million in 2019, but then dropped to $76 million and $57 million in 2020 and 2021, respectively, reported Beer Marketer’s Insights, citing data from Kantar.

Meanwhile, attendees at the Washington meeting told the New York Post that aside from a pledge to raide ad spending, the company provided little details on its future plans.

Anheuser-Busch gave wholesalers a letter on April 25 that included talking points for retail customers in order to dispel the “confusion” and “misinformation” in the wake of the Mulvaney controversy, reported Beer Business Daily.

“This was one single can given to one social media influencer,” Anheuser-Busch said in the letter, adding, “this can was not made for production or sale to the general public” nor was it “a formal campaign or advertisement.”

“Bud Light’s official campaign is ‘Easy to Drink, Easy to Enjoy,’” the letter said. “You may have seen our ad during the Super Bowl.”

“Our new vice president of Bud Light [Todd Allen] and all of us at Anheuser-Busch are committed to reminding all of our consumers why they love Bud Light and why they’ve made it the #1 beer in America,” the letter continued.