Bud Light Tries To Escape Mulvaney Mess, But It’s Obvious Why They Can’t

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Anheuser-Busch executives faced the Bud Light music Thursday morning during their first earnings call of the year, and — thanks to the calendar — everything was peachy.

Despite a disastrous few weeks in the wake of the Dylan Mulvaney partnership — which they swear isn’t a partnership — Anheuser-Busch is largely in the green for the first quarter of 2023.

Of course, the first quarter ended March 31. Bud Light didn’t foolishly decided to put Dylan Mulvaney on a can until April 1.

So no, that move had literally zero impact on this most recent earnings report. We won’t find out the true scale of this month-long Bud Light boycott until August, when the Q2 numbers come out.

Because of that, time is on Bud Light and Anheuser-Busch’s side. A humiliating April doesn’t guarantee a bad May and June. So yes, you heard a lot of we can weather the storm, it’s too early to tell, and globally, we’re fine during Thursday’s call.

You also heard a lot of this:

“This was the result of one can,” said CEO Michel Doukeris. “It was not made for production, or for sale to the general public. It was one post — not a formal campaign or advertisement.”

Bud Light wants to distance itself from Dylan Mulvaney.
AB Inbev CEO Michel Doukeris dances around the Bud Light dilemma. (Photo by BENOIT DOPPAGNE/BELGA/AFP via Getty Images)

Bud Light wants nothing to do with Dylan Mulvaney, but they can’t say it

And if that sounds like someone desperately trying to distance himself and the company from something, without actually apologizing, I think you’re right!

As Bud Light sales tank across the US — they’re down between 20-30% over the last two weeks in bars, restaurants and retailers across the country — it was evident during Thursday’s call that Doukeris wanted nothing more than to just simply say, “yeah, we screwed up. We’re sorry.”

Frankly, that would probably fix all of this. We’re nothing if not forgiving, you know. It’s sort of the whole selling point of the ‘Coming to America’ thing.

If it’s that sort of apology you want, though, you may as well take your ball and go home. It’s not happening — not in that way, at least.

Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light are backed into a corner right now. You could hear it on the call and you can see it through their recent actions.

You can fire people all you want — and they have — but they can’t say they screwed up. You can certainly allude to it by promising us this wasn’t an actual marketing campaign, but you can’t outright say ‘We nothing to do with Dylan Mulvaney.’

It would be so easy to do, but it’s not a viable option — not in this climate.

Because then you’ve pissed off the left, and if you think we’re being intolerant right now, just wait until you’ve angered that mob. Remember, they’re the same ones who somehow managed to cancel AUNT JEMIMA AND UNCLE BEN!

I’m still trying to figure that one out.

By the way, in case you haven’t been paying attention, it’s already happening.

Just last week, LGBTQ+ advocacy group The Human Rights Campaign called on Anheuser-Busch to express more explicit support for “Dylan and the trans community.”

And that’s before anyone at Bud Light or AB dared apologize for the current mess. Could you imagine if they did? No chance.

Bud Light sales fall after Dylan Mulvaney partnership.
Bud Light sales continue to fall after Dylan Mulvaney partnership. (Credit: Getty Images and Instagram)

Anheuser-Busch CEO dances around Bud Light, Dylan Mulvaney mess

Instead, you get little subtle hints — sort of like when you’re being held hostage and have to blink twice.

“As to Bud Light, we have significantly increased our investments behind the brand in the US,” Doukeris continued, adding that they’ve “tripled” their media span for the upcoming summer while also reallocating three senior marketers to oversee Bud Light.


“While beer should always be at the table when important topics are debated, the beer itself should not be the focus of the debate,” he continued.

Blink twice, Michel!

Doukeris, to his credit, didn’t paint an entirely rosy picture Thursday. He did admit sales over the past month have plummeted, and made sure to point out the beer brand’s shiny new commercial that debuted during last week’s NFL Draft.

I would’ve used the phrase “pandering bullsh*t,” but I’m also not CEO of a major company.

Instead, Doukeris simply lauded the new countrified (my words, not his) ad and the beer’s presence at the draft.

He also admitted that Bud Light, and beer in general, should basically stick to what it knows best — sports and concerts.

That, I reckon, we can all agree on. Unfortunately, while it’s not an outright apology, it’s probably the closest we’ll get.

“Moving forward, one challenge is what you call the misinformation and confusion that still exists,” Doukeris added. “We’ll need to continue to clarify the facts, that this was one can, one influencer, one post and not a campaign. And we need to repeat this message for some time.”

Should be a fun summer!

Written by Zach Dean

Zach grew up in Florida, lives in Florida, and will never leave Florida ... for obvious reasons. He's a reigning fantasy football league champion, knows everything there is to know about NASCAR, and once passed out (briefly!) during a lap around Daytona. He swears they were going 200 mph even though they clearly were not.


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