Retail sales of Bud Light crashed amid calls for a boycott in the weeks following the brand's partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, according to a beer industry report.
Tracking data on Bud Light sold in places like supermarkets and liquor stores—known as scanner volumes—fell by double digit percentages during the first two weeks of the Mulvaney controversy.
The sales crash comes amid fallout from Bud Light’s partnership with Mulvaney, a male who identifies as a female and who rose to fame for chronicling a transition he dubbed “365 Days of Girlhood.”
“This month I celebrated my day 365 of womanhood and Bud Light sent me possibly the best gift ever—a can with my face on it,” Mulvaney said on April Fool's Day in announcing the deal.
Mulvaney, who has over 10 million followers on TikTok, posted a series of videos advertising Bud Light and showing off the personalized can, sparking outrage among conservatives, some of whom accused the brand of promoting a transgender agenda and called for a boycott.
The latest Bud Light sales data suggest the boycott is having an impact.
'Hangover'The campaign involving Mulvaney was the brainchild of Alissa Heinerscheid, vice president of marketing, who has since been placed on leave.
“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,'” she said.
Heinerscheid added that she believed that for the brand to evolve, it must incorporate “inclusivity” and that means “having a campaign that’s truly inclusive, and feels lighter and brighter and different.”
“We had this hangover, I mean Bud Light had been kind of a brand of fratty, kind of out-of-touch humor, and it was really important that we had another approach,” she added.
Following the rollout of the campaign involving Mulvaney, Anheuser-Busch saw its market value plunge over $5 billion.
“Anheuser Busch works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics and passion points,” a spokesperson for the company told the outlet.
“From time to time, we produce unique commemorative cans for fans and for brand influencers, like Dylan Mulvaney. This commemorative can was a gift to celebrate a personal milestone and is not for sale to the general public.”
Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth issued a statement on April 14 that addressed the controversy.
Whitworth said the company “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people” but stopped short of explicitly mentioning Mulvaney or the campaign.
Anheuser-Busch later released an ad steeped in patriotic symbolism, including the company's signature Clydesdale horse mascot trotting by iconic landmarks and people raising the American flag.
The ad was met with a critical response by many online users, some of whom framed it as a hypocritical attempt to win back conservatives outraged by the brand's previous campaign.