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A former executive for Anheuser-Busch, the company which owns Bud Light, predicted that the troubles which the beer brand induced for itself through a partnership with self-described transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney will continue.
Bud Light garnered controversy among conservatives after the brand partnered with Mulvaney, a man who claims to be a woman. Market data indicate that sales for Bud Light declined nearly 24% in the week ending on May 6 in comparison to the same period last year, a slightly more severe outcome than the decline witnessed for the week ended April 29, even as other Anheuser-Busch brands suffered to a lesser extent.
Anson Frericks, who spent more than a decade at Anheuser-Busch and served as president of the company’s business unit devoted to sales and distribution, said in an interview with Fox Business that consumers presently “feel like they’re having an impact,” meaning that the boycott against Bud Light will not cease until the brand meaningfully apologizes for the misstep.
“Every single week these sales numbers are being reported, and they’re getting worse and worse every single week. So I see this continuing to drag on until Bud Light makes a comment about what they stand for and what customers they’re going to serve,” Frericks said. “With Bud Light, that was never part of the brand or part of the message. And I think that’s what’s upset so many people here. And that’s why I think this boycott is going to go on a lot longer than people give it credit for.”
Current executives for Anheuser-Busch have indeed downplayed the extent of the partnership in recent weeks and even solicited veteran lobbyists in efforts to win back conservatives who once consumed the brew. The company meanwhile seems to have alienated those on both ends of the political spectrum: leftists and owners of gay bars across the country likewise threatened to launch additional boycotts after the firm backed away from Mulvaney.
Frericks, who launched asset management company Strive last year alongside Republican presidential contender Vivek Ramaswamy, added that the backlash is more pronounced for the formerly apolitical Bud Light brand since consumers can easily pivot to an alternative brew.
“It’s water, it’s barley, it’s hops. What sets it apart is its messaging. So it’s easy for consumers to switch at the grocery store, the convenience store,” Frericks commented. “It was about football, It was about sports. It was about music. It never got involved in political situations. That’s why it was enjoyed by both Republicans and Democrats equally, and that was what made the brand actually remarkable, is that it was remarkably unpolitical and this is just a political situation they should not have got themselves in.”
The comments from Frericks occur shortly after a research note from Carlos Laboy, managing director for the global beverage sector at investment bank HSBC, downgraded Anheuser-Busch stock due to the controversy. Robert Ottenstein, an analyst for investment banking advisory firm Evercore, meanwhile predicted that overall headwinds for Anheuser-Busch could alternatively be on the mend since sales for some brands have “improved sequentially” in recent weeks.