Oxygen Financial CEO Ted Jenkin discusses the fallout of the partnership between Bud Light and trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Beer juggernaut Anheuser-Busch has seen its value suffer since Bud Light’s polarizing partnership with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney. While financial gurus don’t expect the $132 billion company to go anywhere, the eyebrow-raising promotion could certainly tarnish Bud Light’s reputation.
“I simply don’t understand why they hired the person who was doing the marketing. I mean, if you’re a target customer is Kid Rock, and then all of a sudden you decide to go to RuPaul, that just doesn’t make any sense at all,” Oxygen Financial CEO Ted Jenkin told Fox News Digital.
“They generally focus on getting blue-collar workers and younger adults that are 25 to 29 years old. So, I don’t think that this one campaign is going to colossally destroy the brand,” Jenkin continued. “But certainly short term, it puts doubt into their loyal drinkers of Bud Light to say, ‘Do I want to continue to be drinking Bud Light based upon who they’re showing representing Bud Light?’”
Anheuser-Busch set social media ablaze when beer juggernaut Bud Light celebrated transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney’s “365 Days of Girlhood” with a polarizing promotion. (Instagram)
Mulvaney, a trans activist and social media influencer who gained prominence when given an opportunity to interview President Biden about LGBTQ issues in 2022, is now represented by the influential Creative Artists Agency and has endorsement deals with other major brands, including Nike and Kate Spade. Mulvaney revealed earlier this month that the beer company sent packs of Bud Light with her face printed on the cans as part of an ad for the beer company’s March Madness contest and as a way to celebrate a full year of “girlhood.”
A second video then featured a bikini-clad Mulvaney frolicking in a bathtub while drinking a Bud Light beer as part of the campaign. Backlash has been significant, starting with many pondering if the pact was some sort of April Fool’s gag. In the days since, country music singer John Rich said he pulled cases of Bud Light from his Nashville bar, conservative rocker Kid Rock used several Bud Light cases for target practice in a viral video, Anheuser-Busch distributors in rural areas have expressed concern and the beer juggernaut’s value has plummeted.
The stock was $66.73 per share on March 31 and closed at $64.34 on Thursday. That came amid speculation that investors were buying the dip after it closed at $63.38 on Wednesday, sparking headlines that Anheuser-Busch lost roughly $5 billion in market cap.
Jenkin only had one client heavily invested in Anheuser-Busch prior to the Mulvaney debacle.
“They asked us to completely eliminate their position,” Jenkins said. “We had one person that said, ‘Get me out of that stock. I just don’t want to be a part of it.’”
Jenkin said Bud Light is probably “desperate” to reach young people because wine, hard seltzers and craft brews are cutting into sales. While Jenkin is stunned Bud Light would make such a high-profile gaffe that insulted loyal customers, he feels Anheuser-Busch’s value nosedive isn’t going to put such a large company in serious jeopardy anytime soon.
“When you see a number like a loss of $4 billion or $5 billion, it does seem like a lot of money. But relative to the value of the company, which is $132 billion, it really has only gone down roughly 3% to 4%,” Jenkin said.
But just because Anheuser-Busch will manage to stay in business despite the Mulvaney backlash, Jenkin said the controversy could have a lingering impact on Bud Light.
“Anytime a company puts on a national spokesperson that has backlash, it certainly can affect your business. I mean, look what happened with Paula Deen and Bill Cosby and Lance Armstrong, and they were famous people. Now we’re just talking about a transgender influencer,” Jenkin said. “So, certainly there can be a trickle-down effect.”
National Center for Public Policy Research fellow Scott Shepard noted that Anheuser-Busch is owned by international drinks conglomerate InBev, so a single American product likely won’t crater its global value even if nobody buys it going forward.
“But that seems like a plausible result. The Venn diagram of people interested in drinking Bud Light and those eager to support the issue at the sharp edge of the wokist culture war is pretty much just two circles vaguely near one another,” Shepard wrote. “While InBev investors won’t suffer too much, distributors of AB products and others who do business with the company surely will.”
Famed journalist-turned-investor Porter Bibb believes Anheuser-Busch’s “momentary woke initiative follows the current market trend of punishing companies for leaning into social culture,” but agrees it won’t last forever.
“Like alarm over a coming recession and a hard landing, this too will pass. The country is – finally — undergoing a social, cultural, and political transformation as Gen Z begins to assert itself,” Bibb told Fox News Digital.
Bibb feels that brands like Anheuser-Busch and Disney are among companies that “have been assailed for attempting to reach out to previously marginalized groups” in an effort to show concern and grow consumer base.
“More significantly to ensure that they are covering important niche markets as perceptions, taste, and brand awareness continues to change,” Bibb said. “Anheuser-Busch, in particular, may see its share price slide once the market realizes that Bud sales are rapidly giving way to all the water and seltzer brands the company is now stocking.”
The story has been firmly in the cultural zeitgeist, with beer drinkers flooding social media to bash Bud Light decision makers or offer thoughts on the ordeal.