The severity of the ongoing Bud Light boycott in the US has taken an even more sinister turn with the announcement overnight that its parent company, Anheuser-Busch, was set to make around two per cent of its US workforce redundant.
According to its website, the Dutch-owned Anheuser-Busch employees about 9000 people in its US operations and two per cent of that figure would equate to around 380 positions.
News site CNN has reported the staff cuts would not include those involved in frontline work like brewery and warehouse staff, drivers, field sales and the likes.
The latest redundancy news follows earlier reports this month that as many as 700 workers had been laid off at Bud Light bottling plants in North Carolina and Louisiana following slowing demand from the customer boycott.
Bud Light has seen sales plummet by as much as 30 per cent amid a conservative backlash against a promotional campaign involving Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender social media influencer, back in early April.
Modelo Especial, a Mexican lager, overtook Bud Light as the best-selling beer in the US at the start of June and has remained in the top spot since.
In the month ending July 15, Bud Light’s US sales were down 26.5 per cent, while Modelo’s were up 13.5 per cent. Bud Light held a 6.8 per cent share of the US beer market in that period, while Modelo held an 8.7 per cent share.
Announcing the lay offs, Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth said in a statement: “Today we took the very difficult but necessary decision to eliminate a number of positions across our corporate organisation.
“While we never take these decisions lightly, we want to ensure that our organisation continues to be set for future long-term success,” Whitworth said.
Interestingly, the two senior marketers responsible for the fiasco in the first place remain on indefinite leave and have not been terminated.
Since the PR shit storm of PR shit storms arrived, Anheuser-Busch bosses have struggled to articulate a response. By apologising to its mainly white, working class drinking base it would infuriate the LGBTQI+ community who’ve long argued that Mulvaney has been thrown under a bus since the chaos erupted.
There are now media reports that Costco stores in the US have now marked unsold Bud Light cases with the “star of death” that means the product will be discontinued from sale.
Last week, during a first-quarter-earnings call to shareholders, Anheuser-Busch’s global CEO Michel Doukeris again tried to downplay the severity of the boycott.
Doukeris said that lost sales from Bud Light represented about one per cent of all of Anheuser-Busch’s global sales.
Anheuser-Busch brands include Stella Artois, Budweiser, Hoegaarden, Michelob Ultra and Busch.
Doukeris said: “Bud Light is very important to our US business, and I would never minimise the situation. However, seeing the context of our global company provides perspective.
“The Bud Light volume decline in the US over the first three weeks of April, as publicly reported, would represent around one per cent of our overall global volumes for that period.”
Doukeris added: “With this perspective, and in the context of our global business, we believe we have the experience, the resources and the partners to manage this and our full-year EBITDA growth outlook is unchanged.”
Since the fracas broke, Bud Light has desperately tried to advertise its way out of the hole with a series of spots featuring hard-working Americans drinking the beer in the (northern hemisphere) summer sun.
“As to Bud Light, we have significantly increased our investments behind the brands in the US, including tripling our media spend over the summer,” Doukeris said.
“Now let’s talk about our consumers,” he said. “We continue to be committed to the programs and partnerships that we have forged over decades with our consumers and with organisations that represent a wide range of communities where we operate. We work every day to delight our consumers and bring people together. When we do this well, our brands perform.
“Beer is an essential part of life’s meaningful moments, whether in sports, music, or celebrations. These are moments that bring people together, and this is why I love beer,” he added. “While beer will always be at the table when important topics are debated, the beer itself should not be the focus of the debate.”
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