Anheuser-Busch, the parent company behind Bud Light, has declared its intention to lay off around 350 employees, predominantly from corporate roles. This decision comes as a response to the ongoing repercussions of a contentious marketing campaign featuring a transgender influencer. The layoffs, although significant, will impact less than 2% of the company’s total workforce, which is approximately 18,000 employees across the nation.
The company has assured that the layoffs will not touch the frontline staff, which includes roles such as brewery and warehouse staff, drivers, and field sales representatives, among others. Brendan Whitworth, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch, described the decision as a challenging but necessary step to secure the long-term success of the organization. The objective of this move is to streamline the organization and reduce the complexity of its structure.
The trigger for these layoffs was a nationwide controversy stirred by a marketing campaign that featured Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender influencer, not to mention subsequent comments made by Bud Light’s brand ambassador.
The backlash was swift and severe, leading to Bud Light losing its long-held position as America’s No. 1 beer to Modelo Especial. The controversy was amplified by media outlets and social media platforms.
Despite the controversy, Anheuser-Busch has reiterated its commitment to supporting the LGBTQ community. However, the repercussions of the campaign and the company’s response continue to reverberate.
The layoffs were first reported by CNN and the Wall Street Journal. In an attempt to mitigate the impact of declining sales, the company has provided financial support to tens of thousands of frontline workers at independent distributors. However, the layoffs and the controversy surrounding the campaign continue to loom over the company’s future.
The ongoing controversy surrounding Bud Light and its parent company, Anheuser-Busch, has had far-reaching effects, impacting not only the company’s workforce but also its partners and the broader beer industry.
The persistent decline in Bud Light sales has led to production cuts at key partners for Anheuser-Busch. The Ardagh Group, a glass bottle maker with plants in North Carolina and Louisiana, announced the closure of both plants, resulting in the loss of about 645 jobs. The decision to lay off so many employees was tied to the Bud Light situation, according to a machinist with one of the plants. The closures were attributed to falling beer sales generally, with North America seeing a nine percent decline in the need for its glass bottles.
Costco Wholesale Corporation declared a ‘Star of Death’ for Bud Light, which typically indicates that it will no longer be restocking a product in any of its stores. The backlash against Bud Light and other brands owned by beer giant Anheuser-Busch has cost the company more than $27 billion since March. The recent turbulence has led some independent distributors, who have been selling the company’s products for generations, to consider layoffs. The period from Memorial Day through July 4 was seen as a “make or break” stretch for Bud Light and Anheuser-Busch.
Anheuser-Busch finds itself in a challenging position with the fallout from declining sales, and now, significant layoffs. As the company moves forward, it will need to either commit to inclusivity or maintain its customer base and market share.