O’Leary Ventures chairman Kevin O’Leary explained why he plans to teach business classes on Bud Light’s “extraordinary” losses as a result of the brand’s controversial ad campaign in April.
On “Fox & Friends” Monday, the famed investor and “Shark Tank” star said the continued backlash defied widely held beliefs about the staying power of social media and led to losses that were previously “impossible to even dream.”
Kevin O’Leary: This is an extraordinary case, and one I’ll be teaching in business schools across America this fall. In the history of beer, in the history from when it was marketed, because remember, you’re dealing with a commodity. Beer is essentially the same. What differentiates it is brand. So you spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year building up a brand, and then you have to ask yourself on a campaign that really brings you into a discussion around gender identity, ‘is that the right thing for my beer brand?’ Well, apparently not, because if you spend $200 million a year, the biggest moves in the beer market were measured by 1 to 5% in a year. That’s an extraordinary volatility. To lose 25% market share has never been achieved, and it’s impossible to even dream it. So what have you learned? Social media – a widely held view amongst my CEOs is that if you get a bad social media story, it’s going to go away in 24 to 48 hours. But that didn’t happen here. We’re still talking about this situation months later, and they continue to lose share. That, number one, is an issue. Number two, you’ve really got to understand who your constituency is. What they did there was very damaging.
After a controversial partnership with transgender TikTok personality Dylan Mulvaney resulted in months of Bud Light’s slumping sales, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced that it laid off hundreds of workers.
Brendan Whitworth, CEO of Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest brewer, on Wednesday said the company did not make the decision to cut staff “lightly” but was prioritizing its “future long-term success,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
“While we never take these decisions lightly, we want to ensure that our organization continues to be set for future long-term success,” Anheuser-Busch said. “These corporate structure changes will enable our teams to focus on what we do best — brewing great beer for everyone.”
Whitworth clarified the layoffs included corporate and marketing roles at US offices in St. Louis, New York and Los Angeles.
It did not impact brewery and warehouse staff, the company said.