Anheuser-Busch seems to dig itself in deeper as it tries to reverse the sales collapse it suffered following an Tik Tok post by Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender Tik Tok influencer.
A-B is reportedly blaming a "third-party ad agency" for the partnership with Mulvaney. The agency may have made the deal, but A-B was ultimately responsible and should have carefully examined the background of the influencers the agency wanted to engage. Some distributors told the New York Post A-B was saying the can with Mulvaney's face wasn't produced by the company or in its facilities. Did A-B name the agency it was blaming? Of course not.
Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Michel Doukeis downplayed the controversy on an earnings call, insisting it was just "one can, one influencer, one post and not a campaign."
Maybe so. But we think it illustrates some of the perils the use of influencers carries for sponsors. The biggest, of course, is that the company can't control the influencer. Also, the influencer's message message may not advance the strategic objectives of the company.
The bottom line is this: When you allow a third party to represent you, you're responsible for all that they say or do. If they do something that outrages your customer base, you – not the influencer – will bear the consequences for that.
For a deeper analysis, read "What Anheuser-Busch Got Wrong in Its Online Crisis" from CMSWire.