It has now been 50 days since the ill-fated marketing tie up between Anheuser-Busch (AB) Inbev X Dylan Mulvaney, the transgender influencer. This is the same company that brought us beloved campaigns such as the Budweiser frogs, Wassssup, and Real men of genius, along with countless bikini ads. AB represents an advertising legacy literally decades in the making. For one of the giants of American advertising, surely the numbers after 50 days of wokehood are not the ones they were aiming for:
- Stock market price drop from $67.43 to $59.44 as of the time of the publication of this article, representing a loss of $13.92B in stock market capitzliation.
- Bud Light retail sales down 23.6% YoY.
- 2 Bud Light marketing executives defenestrated.
- 1 congressional probe underway.
Those are amazing results from a single campaign. It is not known how much was paid to Dylan Mulvaney, but the loss of hundreds of millions in revenue and billions in market cap must represent one of the highest negative ROI ad campaigns in the history of advertising. As a refresher, you can find the campaign that started it all here:
View this post on Instagram
So what comes next? Considering that AB has managed to entirely alienate it’s conservative client base, they would probably hope to pick up some market share from the Gen-Z and millennial buyers that seem so much treasured by departing VP of Marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid. But that doesn’t seem to be happening either. In fact, since AB has thus far refused to defend Mulvaney in the face of conservative criticism, AB has ended up seeing further boycotts from the left, in addition to losing its LGBTQ+ rating.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place, AB has announced a temporary rebranding of the iconic blue Bud Light design. They are going to go to a camo can design, which is actually surprisingly on-point for the brand. Not only does the camo give the cans a better survival from the next rounds out of Kid Rock’s MP-5, it also represents how AB execs probably just want to crawl into a hole somewhere and come out when everything is over. In case you missed it the first time, here Kid Rock again in full automatic glory:
But for real, what is AB’s playbook right now? It seems like their plan is to give free beer away until everybody is drunk enough to forget this whole thing ever happened. They are giving free beer to their distributors as their way of saying sorry for the millions of lost sales. And they even seem to be giving (practically) free beer to customers, because we all know the point of advertising is to reduce the perceived value of the good so that people are willing to pay less for it.
I was shopping at a Walmart in Central Florida yesterday and saw AB products piled as high as safety regulations would allow. Look at this fully stocked Budweiser in the beer section.
I know, you can’t judge the sales volume with just a snapshot of product on the shelves. But for anecdotal value, I looked to see if Miller Lite was having the same problem.
Based on these 2 data points, I would much rather be a Miller distributor right now than an AB one. But what was really interesting is that they had more pallets out on the floor, near the main door and in the grocery area. Check out these deals.
Wow! $5 for a full case of Bud Light after rebate.
This one is even better. An entire case of 24 Busch Light beers for $1. Dollar General needs to get in on this distribution.
Now I am no rocket scientist, but after spending billions of dollars on advertising and decades building up brand equity, you probably shouldn’t be selling beers for less than the blue state can redemption value. But it does look like years of soulless corporate advertising without truly understanding the core customer (free tip to Ms. Heinerscheid, those fratty and out of touch people you seem to deplore are the ones who actually buy your product) the chickens have come finally home to roost. After 100 days of girlhood, and 50 days of wokehood, it looks like AB Inbev is finally paying the price for neglecting the business principles that got them where they are in the first place.
I’ll drink to that, but with a nice cold Yuengling.