Anheuser-Busch Is Laying Off Corporate Staff After Bud Light Controversy

In case you somehow missed it, Bud Light hasn't been a particularly popular beverage choice for conservatives or liberals this year. Back in April, Bud Light sent social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney a personalized can with her face on it. The can was sent to celebrate the celeb's one-year anniversary of transitioning to "girlhood," and long story short, the collaboration made a lot of conservatives upset. Then, when Anheuser-Busch allegedly failed to come to Mulvaney's aid after severe and violent backlash, it looked like liberals dropped Bud Light from their grocery lists, too. By May 2023, Bud Light sales dropped 23% compared to the same time one year prior, per a study by Circana. Earlier this year, Bud Light officially lost its coveted spot as the best-selling beer in America. (Rival Modelo Especial is the top dog on the market now.)

Now, after a long and tumultuous year, Anheuser-Busch is cutting roughly 380 corporate staff jobs. The figure represents less than 2% of the company's workforce, but it's still a measurable drop. CEO Brendan Whitworth says the decision is made in the best interest of "future long-term success" for the company. In a statement via Food Dive, Whitworth explains, "These corporate structure changes will enable our teams to focus on what we do best – brewing great beer for everyone and earning our place in the moments that matter." The jobs of Anheuser-Busch drivers, salesmen, brewery, and warehouse workers will not be affected.

A bad taste in fans' mouths

Whichever side of the debate you fall on, the controversy's impact on revenue isn't really a matter of opinion.An Anheuser-Busch spokesperson told Newsweek that the company "works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics." But, the comment failed to pacify anybody. On June 29, Dylan Mulvaney slammed Anheuser-Busch for its response to the controversy, posting a video explaining, "I took a brand deal with a company I loved ... What conspired from that video was more bullying and transphobia than I could have imagined ... I was waiting for the brand to reach out to me, but they never did."

Anheuser-Busch isn't the only company in the hot seat for wishy-washy LGBTQ+ allyship this year. Starbucks released a line of rainbow tumblers and cups for June, then went on to demand its employees take down their Pride decorations in stores, as alleged by union group Starbucks Workers United.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, incidents of fatal violence against the trans community have already numbered 15 since the start of 2023. 80 anti-trans bills have been passed into legislation this year. Two days after Mulvaney posted the original video, musician Kid Rock posted an Instagram video of himself gunning down four cases of Bud Light with a semiautomatic rifle. More than the visibility of certain brand deals, these demonstrations force the narrative of equality back with disturbing inertia.