An ad agency responsible for Bud Light’s partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney is in “serious panic mode” behind the scenes, according to insiders who spoke with the New York Post.
Captiv8, based in San Mateo, California, facilitated the beer brand’s introduction to Mulvaney, which ultimately led to the ad campaign that has cost Bud Light $27 billion and counting in sales and market value. The ad, which featured Mulvaney sipping from a Bud Light emblazoned with her own image, sparked a nationwide backlash as the beer’s blue-collar base of supporters accused it of going “woke” in an appeal for younger, more “inclusive” drinkers.
One source told the Post that there was “a lot of chatter” among employees following the fallout. “Internally, the company was in serious panic mode,” the source added.
Founded in 2015 by Krishna Subramanian, Captive8 has been the media mind behind partnerships with high-profile companies like Walmart, American Express, Twitter, and KraftHeinz, according to its website. Subramanian has frequently given his opinion on media campaigns of the day, but ironically his company declined to comment when asked by the Post about internal roilings. Bud Light has also remained tight-lipped about its ongoing fiasco.
In February, Subramanian spoke with the Wall Street Journal about the importance of viral marketing, something that was surely a goal when Captive8 proposed putting Bud Light’s brand into Mulvaney’s Instagram posts.
“The best way to think about TikTok is that it’s a vehicle that takes a consumer to the checkout line,” Subramanian told the paper.
Alissa Heinerscheid, Bud Light’s former Vice President for marketing, has been placed on leave following the massive controversy that has led to celebrity takes, international mocking, free beer, and congressional inquiries. Even President Donald Trump got in on the action, saying “money does talk” after longtime consumers abandoned the brand in favor of competitors.