The letter was first reported by The Hill, which also noted that HRC is “preparing to lower Anheuser-Busch’s long-standing 100 percent Corporate Equality Index score, a national benchmarking tool on corporate policies, practices and benefits relevant to LGBTQ employees.” The warning comes at an inopportune time for the brewer: Pride Month, a time when brands often tout their efforts to support the LGBTQ+ community, begins on June 1.
A Bud Light spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.
Recent news: Dylan Mulvaney breaks silence on Bud Light uproar
'Dramatic' share shift
Sales of Bud Light, the nation’s best-selling beer, were down 26.1% in volume for the week ended April 22, according to Bump Williams Consulting data reported by Beer Business Daily. That represents a deeper slide than the prior week, when Bud Light volume slipped by 21.1%. Bud Light’s market share was down 8.3 points for the week, while rivals Coors Light gained 4.1 points and Miller Lite improved by 3.7. “We’ve never seen such a dramatic shift in national share in such a short period of time,” Beer Business Daily remarked.
What's worse for the brewer is that the negative trend appears to be spilling into other AB InBev brands: Michelob Ultra dropped 8% for the week ending April 22, while Busch Light fell by 8% and Budweiser dropped by 13%, according to Beer Marketer's Insights.
Bud Light and AB InBev first got caught in the middle of the culture wars in early April after an Instagram post by Mulvaney showed off a custom Bud Light can with her face on it. The post drew vitriolic opposition from right-wing figures finding trans rights symbolic of a political agenda they oppose; voices on the left called out the company for failing to stand behind the post. And Bud Light distributors were frustrated over what they saw as a marketing blunder.
The deepening sales decline indicates the brand’s first public response to the controversy—a statement from AB InBev U.S. CEO Brendan Whitworth, issued April 14—was inadequate. Whitworth didn’t mention Bud Light or Mulvaney by name but rather focused on the brewer’s place in society, and invoked patriotism. “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people,” Whitworth wrote. “We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”