Anheuser-Busch Announces Layoffs Following Controversial Partnership with Transgender TikTok Personality
In a bid to prioritize its “future long-term success,” Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, announced the layoff of hundreds of workers. This decision came after a controversial partnership with transgender TikTok personality, Dylan Mulvaney, resulted in months of slumping sales for Bud Light, a popular beer brand owned by Anheuser-Busch.
Brendan Whitworth, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch, emphasized that the company did not take the decision to cut staff lightly, but it was necessary to ensure the organization’s long-term viability. The layoffs primarily affected corporate and marketing roles at U.S. offices in St. Louis, New York, and Los Angeles, while brewery and warehouse staff remained unaffected.
The partnership with Dylan Mulvaney, who identifies as female, had stirred controversy and triggered boycotts, leading to a significant drop in Bud Light sales, which fell nearly 30% compared to the previous year (2022). In response to the growing protests impacting the company’s bottom line, Whitworth stated that their intention was never to be part of a divisive discussion and that they aimed to bring people together over a beer.
Despite acknowledging customer concerns and acknowledging that the discussions had moved away from beer, the company did not apologize for the partnership. They reiterated their commitment to being a beer company for everyone and focused on brewing great beer to earn their place in moments that matter to consumers.
As a consequence of the fallout from the campaign, Anheuser-Busch placed two employees on leave: Alissa Heinerscheid, vice president of marketing for Bud Light, and Daniel Blake, Budweiser’s group vice president for marketing. The controversy also led to Bud Light losing its top spot as the No. 1 selling beer brand on a dollar basis, with Modelo Especial taking its place.
In contrast, during the same period, Coors Light and Miller Lite saw an increase in sales by 25.8% and 21.4%, respectively.
The layoff decision reflects the challenges faced by Anheuser-Busch following the controversial campaign, as the company seeks to regroup and refocus its efforts on strengthening its brand and market presence.
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