The CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev downplayed Bud Light’s partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney and confirmed the company is increasing ad spending in an attempt to recover its reputation amid plummeting sales.
"We need to clarify the facts that this was one camp, one influencer, one post, and not a campaign," Michel Doukeris, CEO of the multinational corporation that owns Bud Light parent company Anheuser-Busch, said in an investor call on Thursday. Doukeris described the backlash against Bud Light's partnership with Mulvaney as the result of "misinformation."
Doukeris confirmed that Anheuser-Busch will triple media spending supporting Bud Light this summer. Just last week, Bud Light released a new ad that shows a group of friends drinking in the rain as a country song plays in the background, likely part of an effort to rehabilitate the brand's reputation among conservatives.
Budweiser, another of Anheuser-Busch's beer brands, released a similar ad last month. The patriotic ad showed Budweiser's iconic Clydesdale horse galloping past American landmarks and farmland.
Bud Light reportedly saw a 26 percent drop in sales from a year ago, after conservatives began a boycott against the beer company’s collaboration last month with Mulvaney.
The company’s partnership with Mulvaney was first made public on April 1. Mulvaney celebrated the partnership on social media, showing off a Bud Light can featuring the influencer and activist's face and a video of Mulvaney drinking Bud Light in a bathtub.
Anheuser-Busch last month placed Bud Light's marketing vice president Alissa Heinerscheid on leave over the boycott crisis. Heinerscheid received scrutiny amid the backlash after it was revealed that days before the collaboration with Mulvaney became public, she said on a podcast that she wanted to make Bud Light less "fratty" and "out of touch" and instead attempt to "attract young drinkers" with "inclusivity."
"We believe we have the experience, the resources and the partners to manage this. And our four-year growth outlook is unchanged," Doukeris said Thursday.
The impact of the boycott is being felt at all levels of the distribution chain. The CEO said Busch is "providing direct financial support" to delivery drivers, sales representatives, and bar owners.