Bud Light has resorted to giving away its beer for free in the aftermath of its ill-fated collaboration with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
The beer company has become the subject of online mockery for offering a $20 rebate on unsold cases that are worth just $19.98.
Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of America’s flagship beer brand, has been in damage control since Mulvaney shared sponsored posts with her 11 million social media followers on April 1.
Unfortunately, Bud Light’s attempts to regain consumer trust have been futile, with sales dropping for the fifth consecutive week, plummeting nearly 24% by the week ending May 6.
A viral image of a rebate offer attached to unsold cases of Bud Light beer has further damaged the brand’s reputation, leading customers to perceive it as a desperate ploy to revive declining sales.
Commentator Ashley St. Clair shared a picture of the promotional offer on Twitter and made light of the situation. Her post garnered nearly three million views and received tens of thousands of likes and comments. Other users also criticized the offer, questioning its effectiveness and highlighting the brand’s tone-deafness.
While St. Clair faced accusations of sexism for her post, she defended herself, stating that she had never seen a man use a coupon and humorously suggesting that men would rather start their own brewery than use a beer coupon. The terms and conditions of the rebate offer, including whether a minimum grocery spending is required, remain unclear. Bud Light’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch, has not provided any comments regarding this matter.
Mulvaney’s controversial bathtub post, accompanied by the hashtag #budlightpartner during the NCAA March Madness tournament, sparked widespread outrage and resulted in a significant decline in Bud Light sales. In-store sales of Bud Light in the United States dropped by 23.6% in the week ending May 6 compared to the previous year, following declines of 23.3%, 21.4%, and 17% in the preceding weeks. Sales data provided by NielsenIQ indicates that the brand’s negative volume trends are expected to persist, with a 20% decline becoming the new norm for Bud Light.
Bud Light is now facing backlash and potential boycotts from various quarters, primarily conservatives but also encompassing a range of political affiliations. The partnership with Mulvaney led to public figures such as Kid Rock, John Rich, and Travis Tritt expressing their discontent through acts of protest or by severing ties with the brand. However, media personalities like Joe Rogan and Howard Stern defended Bud Light’s decision.
Despite the controversies and boycott threats, Anheuser-Busch reported first-quarter earnings of $1.65 billion, surpassing Wall Street’s expectations.
The company’s revenue for the period stood at $14.21 billion, outperforming forecasts. Anheuser-Busch’s stock has risen by 6% since the beginning of the year and 12% over the past 12 months. It remains uncertain whether the boycott had any impact on these figures or if the financial consequences will become more apparent in the second quarter if the controversies and boycotts persist.
Anheuser-Busch now claims that the custom beer can and social media posts featuring Mulvaney were not intended for production or public sale. During an earnings call, CEO Michel Doukeris distanced the company from the advertisement, asserting that it was not a campaign and that an external agency had approved it without Bud Light’s authorization.
Todd Allen, the former global vice president of Budweiser, has been appointed as the new vice president of marketing for Bud Light, following the leave of absence taken by marketing vice president Alissa Heinerscheid and Blake.