The statement (which can be read in full below) was shared on the company's website, and a portion of it was included in an Instagram post, which drew a range of reactions from people on both sides of the issue—illustrating the no-win situation brands can find themselves in when caught in the middle of culture wars.
Mulvaney’s initial post struck a nerve in the cultural divide, leading to protests such as Kid Rock shooting Bud Light packages with an assault rifle and inventions such as Conservative Dad’s Ultra Right beer, which is attempting to win business from former Bud Light drinkers. Alyssa Heinerscheid, VP of marketing for AB InBev and head of the Bud Light brand, was dragged into the controversy when remarks she made about the brand becoming more inclusive and less “fratty” in a recent podcast interview, were widely reported following the Mulvaney backlash. The brand on Thursday got an assist from Donald Trump Jr., who called on conservatives to end their boycott against the brewer.
“I’m not for destroying an American, an iconic company for something like this,” he said on his show “Triggered With Don Jr.”
But Bud Light’s distributors have also been concerned, according to a recap of an Evercore webinar this week with beer experts Mike Mazzoni and Bump Williams. The panelists agreed the incident would see Bud Light lose more customers than it gained. And according to Mazzoni, if Bud Light volumes weaken, distributors could lose faith in the company’s marketing judgment, Evercore analyst Robert Ottenstein wrote. In a report published today, Bloomberg suggested the situation has led to Molson Coors outperforming AB InBev in the stock market.
Bud Light had not made comment on Mulvaney aside from a three-sentence statement defending the use of influencers to “authentically connect” with audiences and had been silent since.
Below, Whitworth's full statement:
As the CEO of a company founded in America’s heartland more than 165 years ago, I am responsible for ensuring every consumer feels proud of the beer we brew.
We’re honored to be part of the fabric of this country. Anheuser-Busch employs more than 18,000 people and our independent distributors employ an additional 47,000 valued colleagues. We have thousands of partners, millions of fans and a proud history supporting our communities, military, first responders, sports fans and hard-working Americans everywhere.
We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.
My time serving this country taught me the importance of accountability and the values upon which America was founded: freedom, hard work and respect for one another. As CEO of Anheuser-Busch, I am focused on building and protecting our remarkable history and heritage.
I care deeply about this country, this company, our brands and our partners. I spend much of my time traveling across America, listening to and learning from our customers, distributors and others.
Moving forward, I will continue to work tirelessly to bring great beers to consumers across our nation.