Anheuser-Busch’s CEO Michel Doukeris briefly discussed the impact of Bud Light’s promotion with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney last month, which was promptly met with backlash that led to a lag in Bud Light sales.
On the company’s May earnings call, Doukeris said the beer brand’s dip in sales in the three weeks following the onset of the backlash represented roughly 1% of the company’s global sales volume during that time. He added “it is still too early to have a full view” of the impact of the promotion on Bud Light’s beer sales.
The company beat Wall Street’s expectations for its quarterly earnings, and the stock closed up over 3% on Thursday.
“This was one can, one influencer, one post, and not a campaign,” Doukeris said, a point he reiterated twice on the call. He added that the beer can was not made for production or sale to the general public, and the promotion with Mulvaney was one post, rather than a formal campaign or advertisement.
The apparent backlash from some conservatives, which included a call to boycott Bud Light, was swift: On April 1, transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, who has more than 12 million followers across TikTok and Instagram, posted a video on Instagram featuring a custom beer can featuring her face that Bud Light’s marketing team sent her.
Previously, the Wall Street Journal reported that Bud Light Sales dropped by 17% by mid-April, per data created by Bump Williams Consulting and analyzed by Nielsen.
Anheuser-Busch’s wholesaler distributors have also dealt with some of the fallout and confusion from buyers who believed Bud Light was selling the cans featuring Mulvaney, according to the Journal. By April 22, Bud Light sales in US stores dropped 21% compared to the previous year, per the sales data analysis reported on by the Journal.
Anheuser-Busch and Dylan Mulvaney did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment ahead of publication.
To alleviate the impacts of the promotion on the brand and its sellers, Doukeris said on the earnings call the company is providing financial support to the brand’s wholesalers. Doukeris said the company has also tripled its summer budget for the Bud Light brand in the US. Bud Light has also reportedly offered a free case of beer to every employee of its wholesale distributors.
Shortly after the backlash, Bud Light Vice President of Marketing Alissa Heinerscheid, and Daniel Blake, the vice president of marketing for Anheuser-Busch’s mainstream brands, both took leaves of absence, the Journal reported. A spokesperson confirmed to Insider that Heinerscheid would be replaced with Todd Allen, the global vice president of Budweiser.
Two weeks after the backlash ensued, Anheuser-Busch’s CEO of the North America, Brendan Whitworth, released a statement that said, “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”
In a TikTok posted last week, Mulvaney spoke about how she’s been offline for a few weeks, and indirectly referred to the recent controversy, telling her followers, “I think it’s okay to be frustrated with someone or confused, but what I’m struggling to understand is the need to dehumanize and to be cruel.