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Retail data from Bump Williams Consulting and NielsenIQ indicate that sales for the brew declined 23.6% in the week ended May 6 relative to the same period last year, a slightly worse outcome than the 23.3% decline seen for the week ended April 29.
Other brands marketed by Anheuser-Busch, the multinational conglomerate which owns Bud Light, have also experienced massive declines during the weeks ended April 29 and May 6: Budweiser sales have respectively fallen 11.4% and 9.7%, Michelob Ultra sales have fallen 4.3% and 2.9%, and Natural Light sales have fallen 5.2% and 2.5%.
Bump Williams, the chief executive of the consulting firm, said in an interview with the New York Post, which exclusively obtained the data, that the company is “running out of time to fix the problem as the summer selling season unofficially started last weekend and Memorial Day is in two weeks.” Anheuser-Busch met with distributors last week to discuss strategies for responding to the backlash, which may include a redesign of Bud Light and Budweiser aluminum bottles.
Williams remarked that weekly declines for Bud Light have “started to settle” in the negative 20% range and said that the typical Bud Light drinker is still “waiting for a genuine and sincere apology” from Anheuser-Busch, as well as a “crystal clear communication on exactly what happened.”
The continued woes for Anheuser-Busch brands occur after the firm made several attempts to remedy relationships with consumers. Executives have downplayed the extent of the partnership and even hired veteran Republican lobbyists in efforts to win back conservatives who once consumed the beer.
The fallout against Bud Light and other Anheuser-Busch brands appears to have been a windfall for competitors: sales of Pabst Blue Ribbon increased 21.6% year-over-year in the week ended May 6, a slight improvement from the 18.9% increase in the week ended April 29. Miller High Life saw sales rise 10.4% in the week ended May 6 and 8.3% in the week ended April 29.
The attempts to back away from Mulvaney have also provoked a response from the opposite end of the political spectrum as leftists demand that Anheuser-Busch “stand in solidarity with Dylan and the trans community” or face a second boycott.
Anheuser-Busch may soon not be alone in experiencing boycotts from beer enthusiasts: Social media users criticized a recent expletive-filled advertisement from Miller Lite that blasted the beverage industry’s past marketing campaigns which revolved around objectifying bikini-clad models, instead promising to donate fertilizer so that female brewers could grow hops. A spokesperson for Molson Coors, the firm which owns Miller Lite, told media outlets that customers should “appreciate the humor” of the advertisement and insisted that nothing in the campaign should be controversial.
Alissa Heinerscheid, the vice president of marketing at Bud Light who oversaw the Mulvaney campaign, took a leave of absence after footage of her criticizing the “fratty” image of the brand circulated online. Elizabeth Hitch, the senior marketing director for Miller Lite, likewise appears to have assumed a prominent role in creating her company’s advertisement.