Bud Light, one of America’s best-known beer brands, saw a steep 21.4 percent fall in sales volumes in the four weeks ended April 29, per retail scanner numbers based on Nielsen IQ data cited by Beer Business Daily.
The data reveal that Bud Light’s rivals in the light beer market saw gains at the same time, with Coors Light sales up by 10.9% and Miller Lite’s up by 12.8%. The dip in Bud Light sales was amid calls for a boycott by critics of the brand’s engagement with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Anheuser-Busch CEO Michael Doukeris has blamed “misinformation” for the backlash.
Overall, sales volumes for Anheuser-Busch, the manufacturer of Bud Light, fell by 12.5% in April, says Beer Business Daily’s retail tracker. Mulvaney controversy Conservative influencers and several country music singers called for a boycott over Mulvaney’s marketing engagement with Bud Light, which involved a custom-made beer can featuring Mulvaney’s face on it. Mulvaney rose to fame for chronicling a transition he dubbed “365 Days of Girlhood”, and has over 10 million followers on TikTok. He posted a series of videos advertising Bud Light and showing off the personalized can, sparking outrage among conservatives who accused the brand of promoting a transgender agenda.
CEO Michael Doukeris told the Financial Times in a recent interview that the boycott was fueled by “misinformation and confusion” circulating on social media, insisting that Mulvaney’s involvement wasn’t part of a Bud Light marketing campaign. Many people thought that Mulvaney’s involvement was part of a broader advertising campaign by Bud Light, he told the outlet. Anheuser-Busch never planned to mass-produce cans with Mulvaney’s likeness on them for sale to the general public.
During an earnings call last week, Doukeris said Anheuser-Busch would be tripling its investment into Bud Light over the summer. Amid the backlash, two Bud Light executives, Alissa Heinerscheid and Daniel Blake, took leaves of absence, although the company did not say whether the departures were connected with the Mulvaney fiasco. An ad steeped in patriotic symbolism, including the company’s signature Clydesdale horse mascot trotting by iconic landmarks, and people raising the American flag, was met with a lukewarm response by many online users.
While President Joe Biden has not addressed the controversy, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed that calls for a Bud Light boycott had led to bomb threats and that it “has to stop.” “We should be able to speak out, and others should be able to speak out, against hate and discrimination,” said the press secretary.
Former President Donald Trump also weighed in on the controversy, suggesting that boycotts could be an effective way to send a message to brands whose critics say are pushing a leftist agenda. “It’s time to beat the Radical Left at their own game … Money does talk—Anheuser-Busch now understands that,” Trump said via a post on Truth Social.