During an analyst call on Thursday, Michel Doukeris, CEO of Bud Light parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev, dismissed the controversial partnership between the beer brand and social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
According to Fox News, Doukeris stated that social media users are spreading “misinformation” about the nature of the partnership, adding that the controversy involves “one influencer, one post and not a campaign.”
However, sales for draft beer products marketed by Anheuser-Busch InBev fell immediately following the partnership and have continued to decline weeks after the controversy as beer enthusiasts search for alternatives. In response to the boycott, Doukeris revealed that Anheuser-Busch is now “providing direct financial support” to delivery drivers, sales representatives, wholesalers, bar owners, and other affected workers. He expressed confidence in Anheuser-Busch’s ability to manage the situation, stating that the company has “the experience, the resources, and the partners” to do so.
Senior marketing executives were sidelined following the controversy, with Alissa Heinerscheid, who was responsible for the collaboration, put on leave of absence. Daniel Blake, who leads marketing efforts for mainstream Anheuser-Busch brands, was also placed on leave.
CEO Brendan Whitworth issued a statement in response to the controversy but did not mention Mulvaney or apologize to customers. He stated that the company never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people and that they are in the business of “bringing people together over a beer.” Anheuser-Busch took a dismissive tone toward the Mulvaney partnership in a letter sent to wholesalers. “This was one single can given to one social media influencer. It was not made for production or sale to the general public. This can is not a formal campaign or advertisement.”
The beverage firm recently hired veteran Republican lobbyists to win back conservatives upset by the partnership. Sean McLean, a former associate director for the White House under President Donald Trump and a legislative director for Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Emily Lynch, a former legislative assistant for Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), were listed in a federal disclosure as individuals who are expected to work as lobbyists for Anheuser-Busch.