(LifeSiteNews) — One of the world’s largest banks this week downgraded the stock of Bud Light parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev amid the ongoing fallout over Bud Light’s disastrous April move to honor transgender-identifying TikTok celebrity Dylan Mulvaney.
Carlos Laboy, managing director for the global beverage sector for British multinational bank HSBC, downgraded the beer corporation’s stock to “hold” on Wednesday, citing alienation of the brand’s customer base after its decision to gift Mulvaney, a 26-year-old actor-turned transgender activist, with a honorary beer can featuring his likeness.
Prior to the Bud Light collaboration, Mulvaney had catapulted himself into the national spotlight last year and began racking up corporate sponsorships after the launch of his “365 days of girlhood” TikTok series chronicling his alleged “transition” into becoming a “woman.” Conservatives have argued the activist has made a mockery of womanhood.
In his comments regarding the downgrading of Anheuser-Busch’s stock, Laboy wondered why the corporation’s “US leadership underestimate[d] the risk of pushback given the recent experience of other firms?”
“Is A-B hiring the best people to grow the brands and gauge risk?” he asked. “If Budweiser and Bud Light are iconic American ideas that have long brought consumers together, why did these marketers fail to invite new consumers without alienating the core base of the firm’s largest brand?”
As LifeSiteNews previously reported, the Bud Light backlash began after the company featured Mulvaney on a promotional beer can, triggering a TikTok video by Mulvaney who promoted the brand while dressed in imitation of Audrey Hepburn. Conservatives responded by boycotting Bud Light, even going so far as to ditch other beer brands owned by Anheuser-Busch.
Amid the blowback, Bud Light marketing VP Alissa Heinerscheid, who had previously said she wanted to change Bud Light’s “fratty” image in favor of “inclusivity,” took a leave of absence to be replaced by Budweiser global marketing vice president Todd Allen. Heinerscheid’s supervisor, Daniel Blake, also reportedly “decided to take a leave of absence.”
A mid-April half-apology letter by Anheuser-Busch failed to staunch the bleeding caused by the public relations blowup, and Budweiser’s Americana April 14 advertisement was widely rejected by conservatives.
On May 4, Anheuser-Busch insisted its affiliation with Mulvaney was limited to “one single can” and wasn’t “a formal campaign or advertisement.”
However, Laboy said the company’s problems are “deeper” than they have so far acknowledged.
“Is ABI’s leadership getting the brand culture transformation right? It’s mixed,” Laboy said. “At Ambev, we think the answer is ‘yes;’ in the US, we think it’s ‘no.’ The way this Bud Light crisis came about a month ago, management’s response to it and the loss of unprecedented volume and brand relevance raises many questions.”
NBC News reported that while “Anheuser-Busch InBev reported a spike in profit for the first quarter,” HSBC’s Laboy “cited a Beer Marketer’s Insights note that showed a steep drop in beer sales – of maybe more than 25% – in April.”
By mid-April, Anheuser-Busch saw a $5 billion drop in market cap.
Bump Williams, founder, president and CEO of the self-named beer industry Bump Williams Consulting firm, told St. Louis Today on May 1 that if Bud Light wants to fix the problem, it needs to apologize to its customer base for spotlighting Mulvaney.
However, the company may be even more reluctant to do so now that it has earned pushback not just from the right but also from the left. While conservatives say the corporation’s efforts to distance itself from the Mulvaney debacle haven’t gone far enough, LGBT activists are upset the company failed to wholeheartedly proclaim their support for the transgender activist.
The Blaze reported that 2Bears Tavern Group, which owns four Chicago “LGBTQIA+ establishments,” said in a Friday statement it would be “discontinuing Anheuser-Busch InBev products as a result of the brewer’s anti-transgender actions and statements.”
The group said it will be dropping all the beer corporation’s products after its “abandonment of its support of transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney.”