Former Bud Light employees have accused its executives of “cowardice” following the Dylan Mulvaney fiasco – and said the company should have been more supportive of the trans influencer.
Anheuser-Busch sales are down 30% since 2022 following their disastrous partnership with Mulvaney – a transgender influencer who chronicled her transition to womanhood on TikTok.
The former best-selling beer has since been surpassed by Modelo, Coors and Yuengling in sales.
Now, former employees of the company slammed executives for “lying” to staff, failing to support Mulvaney enough and leaving them in the dark as the company faced setback after setback.
They expressed the hope that the leadership would stick to its guns and tell the world to “get over it” rather than reeling from the mistake.
A person who worked in Anheuser-Busch’s advertising department told Guardian that after the ordeal: “My work was not normal. It was completely different and very strange.
Bud Light’s problems began with Dylan Mulvaney, 26, sharing a video with her 10.8 million Instagram followers of her opening a can of Bud Light on April 1.
Brendan Whitworth, CEO of Anheuser-Busch
Another former employee said of the aftermath of the disastrous partnership: “There was a lot of panic and a lot of rash decisions.
“We heard nothing from executives for over a month, and then after a few weeks a senior Anheuser-Busch official released a statement that said virtually nothing.”
Others said Alissa Heinerscheid, the vice president of marketing blamed for the disaster, “had nothing to do with it.”
The former worker told the Guardian there was “national-level management incompetence” at Anheuser-Busch.
Former Anheuser-Busch employees also expressed concern for Mulvaney herself during the situation, but they were often repressed by their bosses.
One person remembers asking their boss, “Are we doing everything we can as a company to support this person?” The response was: “Yes, don’t worry. We talk to him constantly.
Mulvaney’s disastrous partnership with Bud Light occurred in April, around the time of March Madness.
Other workers at the brewing company described how they worried about job security as the company’s shares and profits collapsed – but bosses didn’t do much – something to help them.
One former employee said: “I don’t remember there being much reassurance. It is possible that a standardized response was given at a public meeting.
They said there were “a lot of lies from those in power.”
And another said he wished bosses would simply admit: “We did this; beer is for everyone; move on.’
The company said Bud Light sales were down 27% over a four-week period in September compared to the same period in 2022.
Last week, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates bought 1.7 million shares of Anheuser-Busch on the back of Wall Street analysts encouraging investors to buy shares of the beverage brand.
This month saw Bud Light’s latest attempt to bring back former drinkers with the launch of bottles specific to college sports teams, including the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
In August, Bud Light’s parent company said it was confident its U.S. market share had stabilized after a promotion to a transgender influencer cost it sales.
Anheuser-Busch Inbev announced that its revenue in the United States fell 10.5% in the second quarter.
The company said its total U.S. market share across all brands fell more than 5 percent to 36.9 percent in April, but then remained stable from late April to late June. Some of the company’s brands, such as Busch Lite and Michelob Ultra, have gained market share in the United States.
InBev CEO Michel Doukeris said in an August earnings conference call that the company planned to provide financial support to U.S. wholesalers through the end of December to make up for lost Bud Light sales.
But he also said that an internal survey shows that 80 percent of U.S. consumers remain favorable or neutral toward the brand.
“First, they want to enjoy their beer without debate. Second, they want Bud Light to focus on beer. Third, they want Bud Light to focus on platforms that all consumers love, like the NFL and music,” he said.
“We take feedback into account and work hard to win over our consumers. »
Some investors have raised concerns about the company’s discounts on Bud Light. In early July, for example, a Michigan grocery store was offering $15 off a 24-pack of Bud Light, which normally sells for $20.99.
But Doukeris said price increases over the last year have put the company in a better position to offer discounts. And he said summer marketing campaigns were planned even before the Bud Light situation.