ST. LOUIS: Anheuser-Busch InBev is paying a $500 bonus to its workers who were personally threatened by people who were angry about Bud Light’s partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Michel Doukeris, CEO of Bud Light maker Anheuser-Busch InBev, discussed the compensation to the beer brand’s delivery drivers, sales representatives and independent distributors during an interview on Thursday with The Wall Street Journal.
He also distanced the company from its partnership with Mulvaney, saying that the Bud Light-sponsored Instagram post by the influencer wasn’t an ad campaign, and highlighted “misinformation” about the post. Last week, the company met with distributors to help them “dispel potential retailer misconception” about the Mulvaney post.
Doukeris added that Anheuser-Busch InBev will continue its support of LGBT rights organizations.
The uproar occurred after the brewer sent Mulvaney a can of beer with her face on it. Mulvaney, celebrating March Madness and her first year of womanhood, posted the swag bag on Instagram and encouraged followers to participate in Bud Light’s #EasyCarryContest.
Following a conservative backlash to the campaign and calls for a boycott, Bud Light sales have nosedived. For the week ending on April 22, sales of the beer at retailers fell 21.4%, according to an analysis of Nielsen data given to Bump Williams Consulting.
Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Q1 earnings were not affected, however, because the partnership with Mulvaney started after the reporting period ended. The brewing giant reported core profit of $4.8 billion, up by 13.6% from Q1 2022, and revenue rose 13.2% year-on-year to $14.2 billion.
Doukeris did not seem overly concerned about the impact of Bud Light’s work with Mulvaney, saying on the earnings call that it’s “too early to have a full view” on it. The Bud Light sales decline in the U.S. over the first three weeks of April would represent about 1% of the company’s global volume for that period, he said, adding that Bud Light is one beer within its portfolio. The company’s roster of brews also includes Budweiser, Corona, Michelob Ultra and Stella Artois.
Anheuser-Busch InBev also said it plans to triple its planned U.S. marketing spending on Bud Light this summer as it responds to the sales decline.
“With this perspective of our global context, we believe we have the experience, resources and partners to manage this,” Doukeris said on the call.
Doukeris’ comments on Thursday’s earnings call marked the first substantial public comments from the company’s senior executives about the matter.
On April 10, Anheuser-Busch defended Bud Light’s decision to work with Mulvaney, saying it works with “hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics.” Less than five days later, Anheuser-Busch U.S. CEO Brendan Whitworth issued a statement, but it was condemned by audiences across the political spectrum for its vagueness.
Two Anheuser-Busch executives took a leave of absence from the company last month. VP of marketing Alissa Heinerscheid and her boss, Daniel Blake, who oversees marketing for Anheuser-Busch’s mainstream brands, were put on leave by the company, according to media reports. Todd Allen, most recently global VP of Budweiser, took over Heinerscheid’s role; Blake’s replacement was not announced.