Anheuser-Busch InBev’s top marketing executive is speaking out following a monthslong boycott of Bud Light that has cost the brand its title as America’s top-selling beer.
“When things get divisive and controversial so easily, I think it’s an important wake-up call to all of us marketers to be very humble,” said Marcel Marcondes, Anheuser-Busch’s global chief marketing officer, at a conference on Monday.
Bud Light sales have tumbled since the company’s partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney sparked an anti-trans backlash and calls for a boycott. The company’s tepid response angered LGBTQ+ advocates, and the episode became ground zero in America’s culture wars.
“It’s tough to see all the controversial and divisive debates happening in the US the last couple of weeks involving lots of brands and companies, including, especially, Bud Light,” Marcondes told an audience at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. He said brands in this situation should remain open to learning and understanding their customers.
The Anheuser-Busch exec’s comments, previously reported by Adweek, were confirmed to CNN by Camilla Lambert, a spokesperson for the festival.
Last month, Mexican lager Modelo Especial dethroned Bud Light as America’s top-selling beer, a title the brand held for more than two decades. Bud Light sales plunged 24% during the four weeks ending June 3, according to NIQ data provided to consulting firm Bump Williams.
Marcondes struck an optimistic tone about Bud Light and said the brand will begin to go around the country to reconnect with consumers.
“It’s coming back,” he said.