Anheuser–Busch InBev’s decision to hire transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney as a Bud Light spokesperson has taken an even greater toll as sales continue to plummet.
According to data cited by the beverage industry trade publication Beer Business Daily, sales volumes of Bud Light for the week ending May 13 sank 28.4%, taking it to a 27.7% decline from the week before.
Harry Schuhmacher, editor, and publisher of Beer Business Daily, believes light beer drinkers don‘t want anything to do with the brand’s decision to enlist Dylan Mulvaney, saying, “most people don’t care about this issue and don’t want to get roped into a conversation. Therefore they‘re not going to buy the beer.”
Mulvaney promoted Bud Light’s March Madness contest on her Instagram account the weekend of the NCAA Basketball Men‘s and Women‘s National Championship in early April, sparking social media backlash from conservatives.
A spokesperson for Anheuser–Busch InBev, Bud Light’s parent company, did not respond to a request for comment.
In an effort to contain the matter, Bud Light put Alissa Heinerscheid — the first woman ever in charge of Bud Light’s marketing — and her boss Daniel Blake on leave, multiple news outlets have reported.
The debate over civil rights for transgender people has only become more pressing as multiple states in the US have passed laws restricting gender–affirming medical care and barring other resources from the trans community, making it easy for beer drinkers to switch to other brands.
Anheuser–Busch InBev had worked with the LGBTQ+ community and had also previously used Mulvaney for another campaign.
JPMorgan analysts have seen AB InBev’s share price fall more than 10% since Mulvaney‘s social media post went live, noting that even if Bud Light sales stabilize, they believe there is “a subset of American consumers who will not drink Bud Light for the foreseeable future.”
Schuhmacher believes the brand got caught in the middle of the country’s cultural and political division, noting “It just seems like an unlucky draw. The timing and the zeitgeist and the divided environment all combined to create this unbelievable boycott that nobody could have anticipated.”
Despite Bud Light’s negative sales figures, it still remains clear that the manner in which this issue was handled is an example of a double-edged sword – indicating that while the LGBTQ+ community may be supported, their rights to freedom of expression and association are not.