Bud Light Devastation Continues as Anheuser-Busch Gets a New Stock Rating Amid Crisis
Bud Light is a brand in a tailspin for one simple reason: It went woke and thought the adage about going broke didn’t apply to it.
First, it contracted transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney and his social media video series celebrating “365 Days of Girlhood.” When that resulted in a backlash and boycott that drove down the beer’s sales by roughly a quarter, Anheuser-Busch’s CEO tried to paint critics calling the Mulvaney campaign an actual ad campaign as purveyors of “misinformation.”
But an analyst for one of the biggest investment banks in the world has a different term for what we’re seeing: A “Bud Light crisis.”
According to a CNBC report Wednesday, HSBC analyst Carlos Laboy has downgraded the stock of Bud Light’s corporate owner, Anheuser-Busch InBev, to “hold,” saying there were “deeper problems than ABI admits.”
“Is ABI’s leadership getting the brand culture transformation right? It’s mixed,” Laboy wrote, according to CNBC.
“At Ambev, we think the answer is ‘yes;’ in the US, we think it’s ‘no.’ The way this Bud Light crisis came about a month ago, management’s response to it and the loss of unprecedented volume and brand relevance raises many questions.”
“Anheuser-Busch InBev reported a spike in profit for the first quarter, but the analyst cited a Beer Marketer’s Insights note that showed a steep drop in beer sales — of maybe more than 25% — in April. The Budweiser parent company, which also owns the brands Corona and Stella Artois, is up more than 5.7% this year,” CNBC noted.
According to Beer Business Daily, Bud Light was down 21.4 percent for the month of April. That drop accelerated toward the end of the month, with data showing the beer was down 23.4 percent during the last week of April.
Just so we’re clear on the sequence of events, this is the gentleman Bud Light’s marketing team thought it was a good idea to partner with; here he is speaking about “my truth” in the wake of the advertisement kerfuffle and subsequent boycott:
Dylan has re-emerged from the trans farm. He claims that a lot has been said about him. He says, “some of which is so far from my truth.”
Sorry @dylanmulvaney, there is only one truth. Men cannot become women. pic.twitter.com/2gORgsm83I
— Inside The Classroom | Trans-Cult Enemy (@EITC_Official) April 28, 2023
And here’s the VP of marketing for Bud Light, Alissa Heinerscheid, during a podcast recorded before the Mulvaney campaign was launched. If the Mulvaney promotion was the gasoline, the publication of this video was the match that lit it ablaze. During the interview, Heinerschied talks about “shifting the tone” toward “inclusivity” in Bud Light’s marketing, bemoaning the brand’s “fratty” associations:
Meet Alissa Heinerscheid, Bud Light’s VP of Marketing. She explains her strategy of using “inclusive” marketing to promote the brand to young people. pic.twitter.com/hFpe8YnbBc
— Catch Up (@CatchUpFeed) April 9, 2023
Heinerscheid is now reportedly on leave after the campaign’s implosion. Meanwhile, here was Anheuser-Busch’s first attempt to make amends with its customers — an attempt that didn’t actually include the word “apology,” or any of its synonyms.
— Anheuser-Busch (@AnheuserBusch) April 14, 2023
And here was its second (again, not an apology, just a lot of manipulative imagery):
— Budweiser (@budweiserusa) April 14, 2023
And its third (young people, rain, country music):
You get the idea. Nobody at Anheuser-Busch is going to apologize because that would be tantamount to suicide. (Indeed, the very fact that the brand has shifted on a dime to embrace ‘Murica-tastic advertising and distance itself from the Mulvaney controversy has led to another boycott, this time from gay bars.)
However, the company will make sure you know Bud Light is a blue-collar, patriotic brew! Don’t pay attention to that DEI-centric advertising that “fratty” gal was pushing earlier this year. Bud Light is a brand that stands for country music, and bald eagles, and baseball, and Chevrolets, and flag-waving stuff like that!
One may, perhaps, now see how HSBC doesn’t think Anheuser-Busch’s leadership is “getting the brand culture transformation right.”
Call it “misinformation,” call it a “Bud Light crisis,” but the one thing you probably won’t call it is short-lived. Bud Light has now become a symbol of the consequences of corporate woke culture, if not the symbol.
It’ll take a lot of time and money to remove that stain — enough that HSBC’s analyst thinks the stock isn’t necessarily a good investment to buy at the moment.
Bud Light is an important object lesson to corporate America: “Go woke, go broke” isn’t just a conservative meme on social media. It’s a real phenomenon, one Anheuser-Busch InBev execs are going to be dealing with for the foreseeable future.
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