Anheuser-Busch honchos have not “read the writing on the wall” and expressed regret or remorse for alienating Bud Light consumers by enlisting transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney for a marketing promo, sparking continued criticism from conservatives and business leaders alike.
On Thursday, the beer giant’s global Belgium-based parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev reported a steep drop in profits amid the ongoing boycott against Bud Light. The company announced that its U.S. revenue dropped 10.5% in the second quarter, while its earnings before taxes, interest and depreciation fell 28.2%. The losses amount to nearly $400 million compared to the same quarter last year.
PublicSq. CEO and founder Michael Seifert tuned into the earnings call that came as other beers, including Modelo Especial, Coors Light and Miller Lite, have rapidly consumed Bud Light’s market presence since significant backlash began in April.
“It was a doozy,” Seifert told Fox News Digital.
“They still have not read the writing on the wall. If you listen to their earnings call, they still are not filled with a sense of regret or remorse about the poor marketing decisions that they made that alienated their consumer base,” Seifert said.
“The reality is they hired a VP of marketing who said that the brand was outdated and fratty and needed reformation, and it was her mandate to modernize the brand into a more inclusive state. She’s from Brooklyn, they hired a marketing agency from San Francisco to conduct their marketing. And yet they’re surprised that they’re not reaching middle America, middle class?” he continued. “Of course, they’re not.”
The ordeal started last spring when Mulvaney, a TikTok personality who’s gained celebrity status over the past year on the cultural left, took to social media to show off cans of Bud Light sent by Anheuser-Busch to celebrate the milestone of “365 Days of Girlhood.” As conservatives were angered, an interview with then-marketing vice president Alissa Heinerscheid surfaced in which she criticized the brand’s consumers as “fratty” with “out of touch humor.”
Seifert believes that if they want to truly fix the brand “they’re going to have to be very honest about the decisions that led to them making a very poor marketing decision and not just trying to scrape it under the rug,” which he said has not happened yet.
“Consumers are not coming back to their brand, certainly not without a very serious acknowledgment from upper management that they made some serious errors,” Seifert said.
Seifert feels Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth is largely to blame. In April, Whitworth insisted his company “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people” as the backlash was heating up. But he didn’t apologize to offended consumers or directly mention the Mulvaney controversy. Roughly two months later as sales continued to plummet, Whitworth appeared on “CBS Mornings” and faced criticism for not providing a clear answer when asked if he would send Mulvaney the can again in hindsight.
“He has refused to apologize to his former consumer base. And yet he’s also kind of said that he’s not with the trans movement. So, it’s like he’s trying to waffle and play both sides without truly accepting responsibility for the fact that he had a consumer base that he had a responsibility to attract. He was not forthright about his desire to accommodate new consumers. And in that process, he’s trying to make everyone happy. And you’re not going to make anybody happy,” Seifert said.
“What he needed to do is say very simply, ‘For decades, we have been a beloved brand by middle America, by the folks that make our country strong, by the middle class, by small businesses everywhere, by local mom and pops, by the distributors that make our brand strong. And I have recognized that the decision we made that was rooted in a poor understanding of how to attract new customers has negatively affected those folks. And I, as CEO, am sorry,’” Seifert said.
“That message right there would have made leaps and bounds of a difference for him, and yet he didn’t do it,” he continued. “And so, I think that ultimately it’s sort of past the point of no return for Brendan and for the Bud Light entity more broadly.”
Ted Jenkins, CEO of oXYGen Financial, is hopeful Whitworth has learned his lesson when it comes to pushing unwanted political messages on consumers.
“The CEO of Anheuser-Busch has hopefully learned an extremely painful lesson that Americans will absolutely vote with their wallets when you interject politics into their products,” Jenkin told Fox News Digital.
“As a shareholder, most people are concerned that the stock price is going up so the quicker they clean up all this mess, close the curtains, and move on to the next act in the play, the better off that they will be,” Jenkin added. “That means focusing their marketing efforts on the core people who drink Bud Light.”
Anheuser-Busch InBev controls over 500 beer brands with North America’s products, including Bud Light, representing just 27% of global earnings. While Whitworth serves as Anheuser-Busch CEO in the United States, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Michael Doukeris told investors what he has learned from the ordeal during Thursday’s earnings call.
“Our consumers across all sentiment groups have three points of feedback in common,” Doukeris. “One, they want to enjoy their beer without a debate. Two, they want Bud Light to focus on beer. Three, they want Bud Light to concentrate on the platforms that all consumers love, such as NFL, (veteran charity) Folds of Honor and music.”
Famed journalist-turned-investor Porter Bibb believes Whitworth and Doukeris should have focused on taking customers from the “more than 350 craft beers stealing market share” and women if they truly wanted to grow the Bud Light consumer base.
“[They] should have focused on opportunities to take market share from those segments instead of spending valuable A-B (Anheuser-Busch) resources on something like the Dylan Mulvaney promotion, which offered minimal return on investment and not only could, but did, erupt into a very significant loss for Bud Light and A-B,” Bibb told Fox News Digital.
“Boards are in place to oversee and evaluate a CEO’s performance. If A-B’s board had been paying attention, they would likely never approved, not because A-B is prejudiced, but because niche marketing never takes precedence over mass. Bud has now lost brand leadership because its CEO and its board forget that cardinal rule of marketing,” Bibb added. “The real opportunity for increased sales and even larger market share is taking on the competition and target marketing to more women who likely have never tasted a drop of Bud Light.”
Fox Business’ Anders Hagstrom and Joe Toppe contributed to this report.
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