business news in context, analysis with attitude

Advertising Age reports that Anheuser-Busch InBev's Bud Light brand, reeling from a series of public relations missteps that have sent its market share into an even greater decline that it was seeing before, announced a $200,000 donation to the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

The donation, according to Ad Age, extends "an existing partnership with the exclusive certifying body for LGBT-owned businesses. The money is for the organization's Communities of Color Initiative (CoCi), which is 'designed to support the growth and success of minority LGBTQ+-owned businesses through certification, scholarships and business development'."

Bud Light came in for significant criticism from what some would suggest is its core customer base after it looked to broaden the brand's appeal by sending a swag bag to a transgender "influencer" named Dylan Mulvaney, who took to social media to promote the brand.  (Which is exactly what "influencers" are suppose to do.)  Boycotts were threatened, outrage was proclaimed, and Bud Light ended up suspending two marketing executives while A-B's CEO, Brendan Whitworth, issued a vague statement about how "we never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over beer.”

Subsequently, the Human Rights Campaign, described as the nation's largest LGBTQ advocacy group, "informed the Bud Light maker that it has suspended its Corporate Equality Index score – a tool that scores companies on their policies for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees," USA Today reported.

KC's View:

The folks at Anheuser-Busch InBev would appear to be simultaneously throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks, while simultaneously hoping that nothing it says will stick to it.  It ain't working.

MarketWatch repots this morning that "Bud Light sales are continuing to plummet, and now the stock price of its brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, is starting to slide as well.  U.S.-listed Anheuser Busch InBev shares have dropped 9% this year, including a 5% drop on Tuesday, while Molson Coors shares have jumped 17% this year.  Maybe Whitworth needs to start thinking about spending more time with his family.

Let's be clear about the business story:  Bud Light wanted to sell more beer.  That's all.  It meant reaching out to new constituencies.  In such cases, addition and multiplication make sense, but some folks prefer to trade in subtraction and division.   That's it.

And what's really ironic is that all this ink is being spilled over a product that is barely beer.