Diana Bradley
May 11, 2023

Anheuser-Busch: 'No truth' to report Bud Light fired agency responsible for Dylan Mulvaney partnership

The brewer was said to have told beer distributors last week that it fired a ‘third-party ad agency.’

Mulvaney at a New York City event in March. (Photo credit: Getty Images).
Mulvaney at a New York City event in March. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

Bud Light has not split with the agency that was responsible for its collaboration with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, contrary to media reports, according to a spokesperson for the brewer. 

“There is no truth to this claim,” a spokesperson for Bud Light parent Anheuser-Busch said, via email. 

The New York Post reported last Friday that Anheuser-Busch told U.S. beer distributors that it fired the “third-party ad agency” behind the Mulvaney partnership that prompted an online conservative backlash. The newspaper did not identify the firm. 

A spokesperson for the Post did not respond to requests for comment. 

Last August, Anheuser-Busch hired Anomaly as creative agency of record for its main Bud Light brand and The Martin Agency for line extensions such as Bud Light Seltzer and Bud Light Next.

Asked whether Anomaly continues to work with Bud Light, Mark Penn, CEO of the agency’s parent company, Stagwell, confirmed in an interview with PRWeek’s sister media brand, Campaign, that the beer brand is an active client. 

Bud Light agency partners the Martin Agency and Weber Shandwick deferred requests for comment to Anheuser-Busch. 

Last week, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Michel Doukeris distanced the company from its collaboration with Mulvaney, saying that the Bud Light-sponsored Instagram post by the influencer wasn’t a fully fledged ad campaign. Doukeris has also called out social media “misinformation” about the post for fueling the flames of the controversy.

Anheuser-Busch InBev is giving a $500 bonus to workers who were personally threatened by people angry about the Mulvaney partnership. Doukeris also said that the brewing giant will continue its support of LGBTQ rights organizations. 

A conservative social media uproar and boycott campaign started after Bud Light sent Mulvaney a can of beer with her face on it in early April. The trans influencer, celebrating March Madness and her first year of womanhood, posted the swag bag on Instagram and encouraged followers to participate in Bud Light’s #EasyCarryContest. 

After angry social media posts emerged in response, on April 10, Anheuser-Busch defended its decision to work with Mulvaney, saying it works with “hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics.” A few days later, Anheuser-Busch U.S. CEO Brendan Whitworth issued his own statementwhich PR executives condemned for its vagueness. 

Bud Light sales have taken a substantial hit in the weeks since Mulvaney’s post. For the week ending on April 22, sales of the beer at retailers fell 21.4%, according to an analysis of Nielsen data given to Bump Williams Consulting. 

Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Q1 earnings were not affected, however, because the partnership with Mulvaney started after the reporting period ended. The brewer posted core profit of $4.8 billion, up by 13.6% from Q1 2022, and revenue rose 13.2% year-on-year to $14.2 billion. Its other beer brands include Stella Artois, Corona, Michelob Ultra and Modelo. 

Last month, Bud Light VP of marketing Alissa Heinerscheid and her boss, Daniel Blake, who oversees marketing for Anheuser-Busch’s mainstream brands, were put on leave by the company, according to media reports. Todd Allen, most recently global VP of Budweiser, took over Heinerscheid’s role; Blake’s replacement was not announced.

Campaign’s Sabrina Sanchez contributed to this story.


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