Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, is facing a challenging period as its Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for the US, Benoit Garbe, steps down amidst a continued decline in sales. The departure comes in the aftermath of Bud Light’s collaboration with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney earlier this year, which led to a significant loss in revenue and customer backlash.
Garbe, who served as CMO for just over two years, announced his departure, stating that he is leaving to embark on a new chapter in his career. The controversy surrounding the collaboration with Mulvaney resulted in a boycott by the brand’s customers and a notable drop in revenue. The recently reported third-quarter returns revealed a 13.5 percent slump in revenue per 100 liters, a crucial metric for assessing beer sales.
The fallout from the Mulvaney partnership had a lasting impact on Bud Light, with repeated double-digit revenue drops and some stores selling the beer for less than water. The parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, witnessed a staggering $6 billion loss in market capital within six days of the advertising.
Amidst the controversy, fans criticized the company’s response, viewing it as overcompensating with overtly patriotic advertising. The dip in revenue continued throughout the year, impacting the profits of Anheuser-Busch InBev, which produces popular brands such as Budweiser, Michelob, and Stella Artois.
In August, reports surfaced that Anheuser-Busch InBev suffered a $390 million drop in US sales, reflecting a 10.5 percent loss in the second quarter. The recent third-quarter reports indicated a further three percent decline.
Following Garbe’s departure, the company announced that Kyle Norrington, the US Chief Commercial Officer, would take over as Chief US Marketing Officer.
The marketing missteps at Bud Light have been linked to marketing executive Alissa Gordon Heinerscheid, whose team oversaw the controversial partnership with Mulvaney. Heinerscheid aimed to lead an inclusivity revolution at the beer giant, attempting to shed its ‘fratty’ image.
As a response to the decline in revenue, Anheuser-Busch InBev is reshuffling its organizational structure to ‘reduce layers’ and enable top commercial leaders to drive the business forward, according to Brendan Whitworth, CEO and President of InBev’s North American zone.
Despite the challenges, the company has taken steps to revive Bud Light’s image, including a multiyear partnership with the UFC and a $3 million scholarship project for families of fallen or disabled first responders. AB InBev’s CEO, Michel Doukeris, expressed confidence in the company’s direction during a Tuesday analyst call, emphasizing a focus on traditional marketing outlets like college football and concerts.
As a sign of confidence, AB InBev announced a $1 billion share buyback program, reflecting a positive response in stock market trading. The company remains committed to navigating challenges, with Doukeris stating, “We have a good grip on what we need to do and how we are proceeding from here.”