Anheuser-Busch was dealt a crushing blow in the second quarter of 2021, as revenues from U.S. sales plummeted by a dizzying 10.5%. The beer giant chalked up the staggering loss to an ill-fated partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney – a venture that drove off U.S. retailers and cost the company $390 million.
After the backlash that followed the incident erupted, two senior executives in the marketing department of Anheuser-Busch – VP of Marketing Alissa Heinerscheid, 39, and VP for Mainstream Brands Daniel Blake, 34 – both took voluntary leave of absences.
Anheuser-Busch aimed to quell the burgeoning controversy shortly thereafter, issuing a letter addressed to customers and distributors.
“This was one single can given to one social media influencer,” the statement read. “It was not made for production or sale to the general public. This can is not a formal campaign or advertisement.”
However, the apology didn't seem to be enough, considering the shocking figures reported in the second quarter of 2023: a staggering 14% plunge in sales to U.S. retailers – an indication of the devastating consequences of their ill-fated partnership with Mulvaney.
The influencer, at first, gave no response to Anheuser-Busch’s apology. However, after facing rampant ridicule and fear of leaving her house due to the negative publicity, Mulvaney opened up to her 1.8 million Instagram followers about the incident.
“For a company to hire a trans person and then not publicly stand by them is worse than not hiring a trans person at all,” she said.
In response to the criticism, Anheuser-Busch declared their loyalty to the LGBTQ+ community, saying they “are committed to the programs and partnerships” they have forged with them.
“As we move forward, we will focus on what we do best – brewing great beer for everyone and earning our place in moments that matter to our consumers,” the company said.
It remains to be seen if the measures taken by Anheuser-Busch will be enough to help them rebound from this Mike Tyson punch to the gut.