By Jack Phillips
Anheuser-Busch heir Billy Busch said he would consider buying back Bud Light owner Anheuser-Busch if AB InBev was looking to sell it.
Mr. Busch, whose family sold Anheuser-Busch to Netherlands-based InBev in 2008, said that he would be willing to purchase his family’s old brand back. It comes in the midst of a monthslong boycott targeting Bud Light after the beer produced promotional materials from a transgender influencer.
“If they don’t want that brand any longer, sell it back to the Busch family. Sell it to me. I’ll be the first in line to buy that brand back from you, and we’ll make that brand great again,” he told Outkick this week.
If the company decides to sell, Mr. Busch said that one of the first things he would do is apologize to Bud Light’s customers. He would also attempt to restore the company’s previous culture, which he said is “completely gone now.”
The Busch family ownership “knew who their drinkers were,” he added. “They were with the bar owners and the restaurant owners and the liquor store owners and talking to these people day in and day out. Even my dad at 89 years old, 90 years old, he was still going to the bars selling Budweiser back in those days.”
“We’ve always cared very, very much about the people in America. What made this company great was America, of course,” he continued to say.
Noting that AB InBev is a foreign company, its current management made an error by marketers who went to so-called “woke colleges,” the Busch heir said. He was seemingly referring to a Bud Light vice president who later stepped down after a video surfaced of her saying Bud Light needs to pivot from its one-time “fratty” image.
“When you are a foreign company and you rely on these woke students that are coming out of these woke colleges to do your advertising for you, you’re making a big mistake,” Mr. Busch said. “You need to go out there and understand who your core customer is.”
It comes as two market analysts gave grim news to Bud Light, with one predicting there would be “no recovery” for the boycott-beleaguered brand in 2023.
“We assume no recovery in Bud Light this year,” RBC Capital Markets analyst James Jones wrote in a note this week, according to Yahoo Finance.
Recent sales data show that retail-store dollar sales of the brand dropped 26.1 percent in the week ending July 15 and 26.8 percent in the week ending July 22, compared with the previous year. Meanwhile, the beer lost its No. 1 spot to Modelo Especial in May and June, according to figures.
“Recent data continues to show that tracked channels reached a point of stabilization at significantly lower levels for Anheuser-Busch InBev than pre-controversy,” Evercore ISI analyst Robert Ottenstein added in a separate note, according to Yahoo.
However, Deutsche Bank conducted a survey with 600 respondents, finding that the proportion of consumers who no longer purchase Bud Light fell from 21 percent to 19 percent. It also found that Bud Light drinkers who say they are very unlikely to buy the brand in the next three to six months fell from 18 percent to 3 percent this month, according to reports.
“Crucially, the proportion of former Bud Light drinkers who are [saying] they are very unlikely to buy the brand in three to six months has reduced from 18% to just 3 percent, a significant improvement,” Deutsche Bank research analyst Mitchell Collett wrote Wednesday.
Bud Light became caught in a significant cultural controversy starting in early April after a collaboration with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney drew an immediate backlash and calls for a boycott. AB InBev has since attempted to distance itself from the issue with its CEO in May saying that there was no campaign or partnership with the influencer.
Some prominent conservative figures and celebrities had initially weighed in on the issue, with musician Kid Rock using Bud Light cans as target practice. Former President Donald Trump also weighed in on the controversy and said it’s a sign of left-wing radicals trying to force an agenda on Americans.
The impact was immediate as Bud Light has seen a weekly drop in sales. That month, it was dethroned by Modelo Especial as the most-purchased beer in the United States.
Earlier this month, AB InBev confirmed that U.S. revenue fell 10 percent in the second quarter due to slumping Bud Light sales. Revenue fell $395 million in North America during the same time period, it said in a statement.
“The team in the U.S. is working hard to build it back and to earn back consumers,” Mr. Doukeris said earlier in the month during an investor call.
Days later, Anheuser-Busch said it is selling eight craft beer brands to Tilray Brands, including Shock Top, Breckenridge Brewery, Blue Point Brewing Company, 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Redhook Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Square Mile Cider Company, and Hiball Energy.