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Anheuser-Busch, which has seen sales of Bud Light nosedive since it teamed up with trans-identifying influencer Dylan Mulvaney for an ill-fated endorsement deal, is reportedly offering a free case of beer to every employee of its wholesaler network.
In-store sales of Bud Light plummeted 26% in the week ending April 22 after plunging 21% the previous week and 11% the week before that, according to Bump Williams Consulting, which specializes in the alcohol industry. The marketing blunder, which included a custom can bearing Mulvaney’s picture, has gutted what was the nation’s top-selling beer brand.
“Right now their compass is completely broken,” Bump Williams, the founder of the firm, said of Anheuser-Busch. “There’s no game plan.” He added that without a plan to reverse the public relations disaster, “Bud Light is in serious trouble this year.”
The giveaway may just be the only viable plan to get rid of a product that customers are rejecting. The company’s wholesaler network, which consists of many family-run businesses, has been hurt by the disastrous PR stunt and the boycott that has followed.
Williams said that Alissa Heinerscheid, the vice president of marketing at Bud Light who was responsible for the Mulvaney fiasco, had missed the mark with her approach.
“Her big miss was I don’t think she understood who the core Bud Light shopper was,” Williams told the St Louis Post-Dispatch. “When she came out with her comments, they were deemed as being derogatory, insulting and juvenile. And the Bud Light drinkers said, enough of that.”
Bar and store owners have reported that customers want nothing to do with Bud Light.
“I also think that what’s happening now is that anybody that is a Bud Light drinker and switches to Michelob Ultra because they don’t want to be seen holding a Bud Light, someone down the bar is going to say, ‘Hey, buddy, that’s an Anheuser-Busch product you’re holding,’” Williams said.
Heinerscheid has since taken a leave of absence, replaced by Todd Allen, the Budweiser global marketing vice president, Anheuser-Busch InBev told Ad Age.
“Anheuser-Busch works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics,” the company said in a statement. “From time to time we produce unique commemorative cans for fans and for brand influencers, like Dylan Mulvaney. This commemorative can was a gift to celebrate a personal milestone and is not for sale to the general public.”