Anheuser-Busch InBev, the parent company of Bud Light, announced on Thursday that it plans to triple its marketing spending in the U.S. this summer in an effort to recover from a sales slump following a partnership with a transgender influencer. However, CEO Michel Doukeris downplayed the backlash’s impact, noting that Bud Light’s U.S. sales decline in the first three weeks of April accounted for only 1% of InBev’s global volumes. He also stated that demand for Bud Light seems to be stabilizing.
During an investor conference call, Doukeris expressed confidence in the company’s ability to manage the situation, given its experience, resources, and partners. The sales decline began after transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney posted a video on Instagram featuring a Bud Light can with her face on it. Shortly after, Kid Rock posted a video of himself shooting cases of Bud Light, causing a temporary drop in InBev shares. Two marketing executives at Anheuser-Busch, InBev’s U.S. subsidiary, subsequently took a leave of absence.
According to Bump Williams Consulting, Bud Light’s U.S. sales fell 21% in the week ending April 22 compared to the same week in the previous year, with rivals Miller Lite and Coors Lite seemingly picking up the sales. So far this year, Bud Light’s U.S. sales have dropped 3%. Doukeris clarified that the promotional cans featuring Mulvaney were not intended for sale to the general public, emphasizing that it was a single post by one influencer, not a campaign.
InBev plans to reallocate resources from other markets to support U.S. marketing this summer, focusing on sports and music festivals. The company is also providing financial support to those affected by Bud Light’s sales decline, including delivery drivers, sales representatives, and wholesalers. InBev reported a 13% increase in revenue to $14 billion in Q1 of this year, with global sales volumes rising 1% due to strong demand in Asia. Despite beating analysts’ forecasts, the Belgium-based company did not upgrade its full-year earnings, citing the unpredictability of market fluctuations this year.