Billy Busch, the heir to brewing giant Anheuser-Busch, has expressed his interest in buying back Bud Light from its parent company following a controversial marketing campaign that triggered a conservative boycott and negatively impacted sales. In a recent interview with conservative pundit Tomi Lahren, Busch criticized the beer’s marketing team for neglecting its traditional customer base and claimed that he could make Bud Light “great again.”
Bud Light is currently produced by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, which acquired the company from the Busch family in 2008 for $52 billion. However, Busch believes that InBev fails to understand the preferences of its core consumer and suggested that if the company no longer wants the Bud Light brand, they should sell it back to him. He promised to be the first in line to buy it and restore its former glory.
The decline in Bud Light’s sales can be attributed to a marketing campaign featuring transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Mulvaney, a biological male who identifies as a woman, promoted the beer in an Instagram video during the March Madness college basketball tournament. The video showed Mulvaney in a black cocktail dress and gloves, holding a six-pack of Bud Light. The campaign immediately faced backlash, with conservative figures and celebrities calling for a boycott. Musician Kid Rock even filmed himself shooting a stack of Bud Light cases in protest.
Despite suspending two of its top marketing executives in response to the controversy, Anheuser-Busch has been unable to recover from the boycott. Nielsen data revealed that Bud Light sales declined by 26.5% for the week ending August 5, faster than the previous week-on-week decline of 25.9%. These plummeting sales have had a significant impact on the company’s overall revenue, which was down 10% in the second quarter compared to the same period last year.
Anheuser-Busch’s attempts to win back its core customer base have also been unsuccessful. Steep discounts during the Fourth of July holiday failed to boost sales, and an ad featuring a mostly white crowd struggling in the summer heat was condemned for allegedly mocking “regular Americans.” The brand’s U-turn has also disappointed Mulvaney, who expressed her disappointment in a social media video in June, stating that the company’s lack of public support was worse than not hiring a transgender person at all. She even suggested that LGBTQ customers may boycott the beer as a result.
The future of Bud Light remains uncertain, but Billy Busch’s offer to buy back the brand reflects his confidence in reviving it. With its historical significance and loyal customer base, Busch believes that he can bring back the beer’s former glory and appeal to its traditional consumers. As the debate surrounding Bud Light continues, it remains to be seen if Anheuser-Busch will consider selling the brand back to the Busch family.