AB InBev STILL Doesn't Get It: CEO Reverts to Ridiculous Defense of Bud Light's Dylan Mulvaney Disaster

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

As the wise old metaphor clearly says, “When you’re in a hole, stop digging.”

The adage also requires the person or entity to realize that he, she, or it is, in fact, in a hole. As importantly, the person or entity must admit to himself, herself, or itself why the hole exists and then proceed to make rational decisions in a serious attempt to escape from the hole. We’re not talking rocket science here.

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This brings us to Anheuser-Busch InBev and its continuing Dylan Mulvaney-linked Bud Light disaster.

If you’ve just arrived on Earth, Dylan Mulvaney, a struggling actor, is a 26-year-old man who pretends he’s a teenage girl. As a TikTok influencer, this guy has raked in untold amounts of cash, including from Bud Light’s ill-fated marketing department to feature the brand in “x” amount of his TikTok videos per month.

If you find the following images creepy, I suggest you don’t view any of the videos. [sarc]

Anyway, the stuff began to hit the fan for Bud Light big time after the Mulvaney sponsorship began on April 1, which the company initially claimed was part of a larger campaign to attract younger audiences. The deeper the hole got, the faster and deeper AB InBev and Bud Light continued to dig.

Needless to say, the deeper the hole, the deeper the dive in AB InBev’s market capitalization value.

As we reported in late May, Bud Light sales had declined nearly 30 percent. Astonishingly, the brand has fallen from America’s top-selling beer to, at last report, 15th place. Moreover, the multinational corporation’s market capitalization has fallen nearly $15 billion since May 1, when it stood closed at $130.2 billion. As I write, the valuation sits at $115.28 billion.

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AB InBev can spin it any way it chooses, but I’m unaware of a more devastating corporate collapse based almost exclusively on a boneheaded marketing decision in the history of marketing.

Go Woke, Go Broke

As I reported in early April, surprise 2024 GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy took a blow torch to both Bud Light’s “go woke, go broke” decision to enter into a sponsorship with Mulvaney, as well as to the pretend teenage girl, himself. The following is classic Ramaswamy, which is a perfect example of why the 37-year-old multimillionaire entrepreneur has gained traction in the race.

Remember the “Bud Light Party” campaign during the 2016 election season? The beer behemoth paid outspoken left-wing celebrities Amy Schumer and Seth Rogan to tip their hat to Democrats. The only person that ad would ever convince to crack open a cold one is Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Now the King of Beers is paying homage to the newest cultural zeitgeist by paying trans activist Dylan Mulvaney to prod grown men into dressing like Audrey Hepburn while drinking beer. For a drink that was once a blue-collar staple of middle America, this isn’t a winning sales strategy. It’s a way for the CEO to signal his virtue while alienating a customer base that is too afraid to say so out loud.

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Ramaswamy then put the blow torch on full blast with this shot at Mulvaney:

One of the goals of my candidacy for president of the United States is to close the gap between what people are willing to say behind closed doors versus what they say in public. In that spirit, here goes: Dylan Mulvaney might need mental health care, not endorsement deals.

As sales of Bud Light continued to free-fall and AB InBev’s market cap continued its swan dive, the corporation continued to spin like a top — to no avail. As we reported on July 11, images began circulating on social media showing that Bud Light had been hit with Costco’s notorious “Death Star” in some locations — an asterisk in the upper right corner of price cards. The “Death Star” is used to inform customers that a product won’t be restocked.

Podcaster Joe Rogan tag-teamed with rapper O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson Sr. in mid-July on The Joe Rogan Experience to further burn Bud Light to a charcoal briquette. Said Rogan:

People are sick of this s–t. They’re sick of social things like that, that are controversial getting stuffed in your face, where you have to accept. People are like, ‘I don’t want to accept it.’

Ice Cube added: “Politics really shouldn’t be in someone’s beer mug.”

Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Latest Stand
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So after all of the above — and worse — what’s AB InBev’s latest argument? The same ridiculous argument it used early on:

During a call discussing the company’s first-quarter-earnings disaster, CEO Michel Doukeris again trotted out the absurd excuse that the Mulvaney partnership was just a single can sent to Mulvaney and that Bud Light never intended a rollout of Mulvaney-featuring products.

Let me start by clarifying a few facts. This was the result of one can. It was not made for production or sale to the general public. It was one post, not a formal campaign or advertisement.

Bud Light is very important to our U.S. business, and I would never minimize the situation. However, seeing the context of our global company provides perspective.

How to put this tactfully… What the hell difference does the number of cans produced make? Memo to Mr. Doukeris, and I’ll say this s-l-o-w-l-y: One can or one million cans — is totally irrelevant.

But here’s the thing. As Doukeris made clear with his “However” qualifier, he’s more concerned with AB InBev’s global market than Bud Light customers. Fine. After all, what’s a 30 percent decline in Bud Light sales and a $15 billion market cap dive when compared to “Go woke, bo broke”? Priorities.

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Here’s the other thing. Bud Light spent decades and untold millions of marketing dollars building brand loyalty among hardworking, everyday American beer drinkers, only to risk it all on “just one can” featuring a 26-year-old dude with a 5 o’clock shadow prancing around like a herky-jerky 16-year-old girl.

So please, Mr. Chief Executive Officer, can you explain to us just one more time how that makes sense? We’ll wait.

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