In a desperate effort to recover from the backlash it faced after partnering with controversial trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney, Bud Light has resorted to handing out free beer to its wholesale employees.
The brand, which has seen sales plummet since the announcement of the partnership, has also promised to increase marketing spending and accelerate ad production.
However, industry experts warn that the brand’s “compass is completely broken” and that without a clear plan to navigate the backlash and turn around declining sales, Bud Light is in serious trouble this year.
As a gesture of goodwill, Anheuser-Busch, the beer’s parent company and America’s largest brewer, will give a free case of beer to every employee of its wholesaler network.
This move aims to support many family-run businesses who have been badly affected by the scandal.
However, figures from Bump Williams Consulting show that in-store sales have continued to decline, with a 26% drop in the week ending April 22.
The decline in the previous week was 21%, and the week before that, sales fell 11%.
Bump Williams, the founder of the consulting firm, said that Bud Light must apologize, adding that “right now, their compass is completely broken. There’s no game plan.”
Williams warned that without a clear strategy, the brand risks being overtaken by Modelo Especial by the end of the year if the backlash continues. Another PR expert echoed these sentiments, stating that Bud Light must properly address the issue or “they’re only going to further hurt themselves.”
Currently, Bud’s responses have been weak and have failed to provide a concrete apology to angry customers.
The outrage deepened when comments from Bud Light executive Alissa Heinerscheid surfaced, saying that the beer needed to update its “fratty” and “out of touch” branding.
Consequently, Heinerscheid and her boss, Daniel Blake, Anheuser-Busch’s VP for mainstream brands, have been placed on leave over the scandal.
Williams explained that Heinerscheid’s mistake was not understanding who the core Bud Light shopper was. When she made derogatory and insulting comments, the Bud Light drinkers said “enough of that.” He also warned that Anheuser-Busch’s other brands might also suffer because of the Mulvaney anger. Some analysts suggest that Bud Light’s competitors, including Miller Lite and Coors Lite, have enjoyed a boon in sales during the scandal.
Despite the negative effects, Anheuser-Busch’s only comment on the matter has been a single statement confirming that the Bud Light cans showing Mulvaney’s face were a personal gift to the influencer and not for sale to the public.
The company has said that it works with hundreds of influencers across its brands as a way to connect with audiences across various demographics.
In an appearance on Rosie O’Donnell’s podcast, Mulvaney defended herself against the backlash.
She argued that she was an easy target because she is new to the industry and that going after a trans woman who had been in the industry for 20 years would be much harder. Mulvaney expressed her frustration that anything she says or does is taken out of context and used against her. She believes that everything she puts out is positive and aims to connect with people who may not understand her.
In conclusion, Bud Light’s partnership with Dylan Mulvaney has caused significant damage to the brand’s reputation, leading to declining sales and negative comments from industry experts. The company’s decision to give free beer to its wholesale employees and increase marketing spending may not be enough to salvage its image, especially if it fails to provide a concrete apology to its customers. With Bud Light’s “compass completely broken,” the brand must act quickly to navigate the backlash and prevent further damage to its reputation.