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Anheuser-Busch cans ‘third-party ad agency’ tied to Dylan Mulvaney fiasco


Anheuser-Busch is telling US beer distributors it has fired the “third-party ad agency” behind Bud Light’s Dylan Mulvaney fiasco — but the beer giant is staying tight-lipped about the marketing firm’s identity, even launching a fresh ad campaign aimed at damage control, The Post has learned.

The company’s global CEO Michel Doukeris this week came out swinging at the “misinformation” being spread about the extent of Bud Light’s relationship with the transgender influencer, who has more than 10 million followers on TikTok.

“We need to clarify the facts that this was one camp, one influencer, one post and not a campaign,” the Anheuser-Busch boss said during an earnings call Thursday.

Anheuser-Busch also sent a letter to jittery distributors telling them it had cut ties with the firm responsible for the concept that has led to Bud Light sales cratering since Mulvaney last month posted a video on TikTok touting the best-selling beer in the country, multiple sources said.

The Belgian-based conglomerate said the beer can at the center of the firestorm, which features Mulvaney’s face, was not produced by Anheuser-Busch or in any of its facilities, several distributors told The Post.

Ad agencies send out hundreds of influencer kits a year, some of which have a customized can included. This was one of those situations,” a distributor based in Texas told The Post.

John Skeffington, chief executive of family-owned Skeff Distributing in Decatur, Ill., said in a Facebook post: “The single can was produced by a third-party ad agency, not Anheuser-Busch.”

Skeffington went on to note his company “does not produce products or make marketing decisions for the products we sell,” adding that his firm and its more than 100 employees have been “negatively impacted by this unfortunate event.”

“Please don’t allow one decision to jeopardize the goodwill we have earned over many decades of being good friends and neighbors in all of the communities we serve,” Skeffington wrote.

However, the mystery remains about which marketing firm connected Mulvaney with Bud Light.


Transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney first posted Bud Light promotions to her social media accounts on April 1.
Dylan Mulvaney / Instagram

Anheuser-Busch placed two marketing executives — Alissa Heinerscheid, the vice president of marketing, and her boss, Daniel Blake — on leave last month.

In Mulvaney’s social media posts, which include a video of her drinking a Bud Light in a bathtub, the influencer uses the hashtag #budlightpartner.

In August, the St. Louis, Mo.-based conglomerate retained Anomaly as the creative agency for its Bud Light brand.

The acclaimed Big Apple firm has produced many of the popular ads for Bud Light shown during the Super Bowl.

A spokesperson for the agency said it “was not involved in any way with the Dylan Mulvaney campaign for Bud Light.”

Doukeris also acknowledged the impact the controversy is having on distributors and said the company is “providing direct financial support” to delivery drivers, wholesalers and bar owners who were impacted by the backlash. 

Sales have plummeted by more than 20% across the country, according to data from Nielsen IQ and Bump Williams Consulting.


Dylan Mulvaney in a bubble bath with Bud Light cans nearby.
Bud Light has distanced itself from the Mulvaney posts, stating that they were not sanctioned by higher-ups.
Dylan Mulvaney / Instagram

The upstate New York distributor, who wanted to remain anonymous, said his Bud Light sales fell 27% in April and the downward trend in May has continued.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” he said.

Two other distributors — in Florida and Texas, where consumers and businesses alike have contributed to intense boycotts of Bud Light — said they have seen the brand’s sales decline slow down.

The Florida distributor, who did not want to be identified, said last week that his sales of Bud Light were down 12%.

“But over the past four days, our sales are almost even with where we were a year ago,” he said.

“It’s beginning to level out.”


A six pack of Bud Light bottles.
Bud Light sales have steadily declined since the April 1 Dylan Mulvaney posts went viral.
AP

The distributor added that most of the blowback is coming from customers who are in their mid-50s and older.

“I doubt that we’ll get them back, but the people who are 40 and under don’t seem to be bothered,” he added. 

The Texas distributor, whose Bud Light sales fell as much as 20% in April, said, “There will be drinkers we never get back, who have made a choice.”

At the same time, the distributor said starting about a week ago, his company “turned a corner.”

The amount of beer the distributor sells to its retail customers, who are primarily located in rural areas, has “leveled,” adding it has not declined further.



This story originally appeared on NYPost

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