A San Francisco marketing agency responsible for Bud Light's partnership with Dylan Mulvaney was in a "serious panic mode" after a torrential public blowback, a source told the New York Post.
Captiv8, an 8-year-old ad firm based out of San Mateo, California, that introduced Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) to the 26-year-old transgender actor, has since become an exemplar of marketing gone wrong, the Post's source said.
Following the April 1 debut of the ad showing Mulvaney dancing in a bubble bath next to a tiered serving platter of Bud Light cans, the source continued, confusion inside Captiv8's offices began stirring amid a stream of public criticism.
"There was a lot of chatter" in the office about what would happen to the firm over the botched campaign, they added. "Internally, the company was in serious panic mode."
Nonetheless, both AB InBev and Captiv8 have been tightlipped about the ad campaign, and it is not immediately clear who bears responsibility for Mulvaney's face on a Bud Light beer can or who produced Mulvaney's TikTok video.
In April, AB InBev placed its vice president of marketing for Bud Light, Alissa Heinerscheid, and her boss, Daniel Blake, on leave. Afterward, the Belgian-based conglomerate informed distributors that the beer can bearing Mulvaney's face was not manufactured by Anheuser-Busch or in any of its establishments. Furthermore, the conglomerate revealed that it had severed ties with the "third party" responsible for the Mulvaney video, according to the Post.
But in regard to the beer can, according to a distributor based in Texas who relayed AB InBev's talking points, "Ad agencies send out hundreds of influencer kits a year, some of which have a customized can included. This was one of those situations."
Just a day before Mulvaney's collaboration was revealed, Heinerscheid made some candid remarks during a podcast expressing that the Bud Light brand had taken on a "fratty" and "out of touch" image.
"I'm a businesswoman," she said. "I had a really clear job to do when I took over Bud Light, and it was 'this brand is in decline, it's been in a decline for a really long time, and if we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand, there will be no future for Bud Light.'"
Despite Heinerscheid's comment before the ad campaign, Bud Light, which stood as a longstanding leader in the U.S. beer market, has since experienced a significant blow as sales reached their lowest point in history. According to data provided by Bump Williams Consulting and Nielsen IQ, during the week ending on May 20, the brand faced a decline of 25.7%, further jeopardizing its position as the country's top beer brand. This outcome follows a previous week's decline of 24.6% and marks the sixth consecutive week in which Bud Light sales have been negatively impacted.
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