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AB-InBev ‘buying back’ unsold Bud Light and loses top LGBTQ+ rating

AB-InBev is buying back unsold Bud Light which has passed its expiry date, according to The Wall Street Journal, following news it has also lost its top LGBTQ+ rating from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

The news comes after the recent Dylan Mulvaney sponsorship deal, and with the backlash and boycotts continuing, total Anheuser-Busch beer volumes were down by 12.5% in April, while sales from Molson Coors and Constellation Brands rose 7.6% and 3.8%.

Bud Light itself took a heavy beating in April, falling 21.4% in the month while sales of parent brand Budweiser were 11.5% down. Coors Light, a direct rival to Bud Light, appears to have been the biggest beneficiary of the protests, putting on 10.9% in April. The Wall Street Journal also reported that sales of Bud Light for the first few weeks of May were down around 28%.

The reported buy-back also follows the equality rating, awarded by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, which had been given to Bud Light’s parent company Anheuser-Busch for policies recognising LGBTQ+ equality. The Foundation has written to the firm informing Anheuser-Busch of its decision, in a 9th May letter seen by USA Today, who first reported on the situation. In the letter shared with the publication, the campaign group told Anheuser-Busch that it had suspended its Corporate Equality Index score, which assesses a firm based on its policies for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees.

Anheuser-Busch, which had a Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality score, has now been given 90 days to respond by the campaign group, or have its scores docked.

Conservative Americans continue to shun Bud Light, once positioned as the “all American beer”, for hiring Mulvaney to promote it while dressed as Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The issue originally began on 1 April when influencer Mulvaney posted a video of herself cracking open a can of Bud Light featuring her face on the can, using the hashtag #budlightpartner.

At least two of Bud’s marketeers have been sent on leave and Anheuser-Busch has ditched an advertising agency involved with the scheme.

A podcast recorded one month before the scandal broke heard marketing executive Alissa Heinerscheid declare that she intended to dismantle Bud Light’s “fratty” reputation, and make the brand more inclusive to ensure its continued relevance.

“It’s been in decline for a really long time. And if we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand, there will be no future for Bud Light,” she told the Make Yourself at Home podcast on 30 March 2023.

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