Bud Light sales fell 17% in dollars, and volume plunged 21%, in the week ended April 15, according to NielsenIQ and Bump Williams Consulting.
That's the result of the April 1 launch of a controversial campaign featuring transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney on social media. In the seven days that followed the launch sales fell 6% and volume fell 11%.
The marketing executives responsible for the Mulvaney campaign – Alissa Heinerscheid, Bud Light's vp-marketing, and Daniel Blake, her boss – are taking leaves of absence, Anheuser-Busch announced over the weekend.
Todd Allen, most recently global vp of Budweiser, is taking over Heinerscheid's role.
Bud Light's market share fell 6.7% last week, while Coors Light and Miller Lite are up 18%, according to Insights Express newsletter. A week earlier, Coors Light's market share was up 10% over the same period and Millere Lite was up 11.5%.
To celebrate the first anniversary of her gender transformation, Mulvaney had posted a video of herself drinking Bud Light and calling the can, which had her face on it, “possibly the best gift ever.” That led to a social media movement to boycott Bud Light.
The Mulvaney campaign has unleashed a torrent of negative publicity for A-B, and some A-B distributors have cancelled marketing events featuring the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales. The distributors are looking for a more pointed and well-developed plan on how A-B might stem the onslaught of negative attention and sales trends," Insight Express said.
A-B said it would adjust some of its marketing department operations to ensure senior staff are fully connected to decisions about brand activities.
Meanwhile, Mulvaney's partnership with Maybelline yields a new round of boycott calls, MarketWatch is reporting.
Prior to the Bud Light brewhaha, some branding experts had said promotions with trans activists can cement a brand's connection with a younger demographic that, they said, often supports transgender rights.
Actually, it's far more complicated than that. A Pew Research Center study last year showed a majority of American adults favor laws that would protect transgender individuals from discrimination in jobs, housing and public spaces. At the same time 60% say a person's gender is determined by their sex assigned at birth, up from 56% in 2021 and 54% in 2017.
Another Pew study, in July 2021, found there isn't a public consensus on whether greater social acceptance of transgender people is good or bad for the country.