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Anheuser-Busch Giving Distributor Employees Free Bud Light

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Anheuser-Busch is trying to make things right with its distributors after the backlash to the Bud Light promotion with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, including boosting its marketing efforts and even giving free cases of beer to wholesaler employees.

The country’s largest brewer, the distributors said, has promised to accelerate new advertising production, bump up marketing spending on Bud Light, and has promised a case of the beer to each employee, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The efforts are continuing a month after Mulvaney spoke out in an Instagram video about a personalized can of the beer the brewer had sent as a gift.

The video, posted on April 1, started a boycott, causing Anheuser-Busch and independently-owned distributorships to lose money.

An analysis of Nielsen data shows that in the week ending April 22, sales of Bud Light in the United States dropped by 21.4%, compared with the same period in 2022, while the sales of rivals Miller Lite and Coors Light went up by about a combined 21%.

Other Anheuser-Busch brands dropped in sales too, including Budweiser, Busch Light and Michelob Ultra.

The backlash also sent “shock waves through distributors,” said Jeff Wheeler, vice president of marketing for Del Papa Distributing near Houston.

He noted that his administrative staff handled “tons of phone calls from people being very hateful.”

Del Papa posted a statement on Facebook, saying as a local distributor, it had no control over Anheuser-Busch’s marketing decisions.

“We too are upset with this situation and have been vocal about it with the top leadership at Anheuser-Busch,” the statement said.

Earlier this year, though, wholesalers told The Wall Street Journal they were happy at this year’s annual company meeting in Anaheim, California, when the company presented a new marketing campaign for Bud Light and screened Super Bowl ads.

But when the brand enlisted influencers, including Mulvaney, to create a buzz for the beer during the March Madness tournament, the trouble started.

The Mulvaney can was not sold publicly but bar and store owners believed that her video appeared as a TV commercial, or that the can, which had her picture on it, was being stocked on store shelves.

“They didn’t need to take this risk,” one distributor said.

He’s also worried Bud Light’s marketing could swing back in the other direction, adding that “I lost my cowboy bars and now I could lose my gay bars, too.”

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