In an exclusive interview with News Nation, Billy Busch, a scion of the Busch family that founded Anheuser-Busch, has voiced strong criticism against the brewery's recent marketing partnership with a transgender influencer and offered to buy back the Bud brands family from AB InBev. The partnership, which aimed to promote Bud Light, has allegedly led to a decline in sales, raising concerns within the company's leadership.
Billy Busch, who hails from the family that famously sold Anheuser-Busch to InBev for a staggering USD 52 billion in 2008, spoke candidly about his reservations regarding the marketing strategy. In his interview on Wednesday, Busch aimed his comments at Brendan Whitworth, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch in the United States.
The scion raised doubts about the compatibility of the partnership with the brand's core audience. He expressed, "I understand that the Bud Light drinker is your blue-collar, mainly your blue-collar, hard-working American who really doesn't want that kind of message pushed down their throat." Busch's remarks suggest that the messaging of the partnership might have alienated Bud Light's traditional consumer base.
Billy Busch, aged 62, holds a significant family legacy within the brewing industry. He is the son of Augustus 'Gussie' Busch Jr., who served as Anheuser-Busch chairman from 1946 to 1975. Moreover, his great-grandfather Adolphus Busch is credited with founding the iconic brewery.
The heir, who claims that beer is “in his blood,” established his own brewing enterprise in 2011. Under the banner of William K. Busch Brewing Co., he produced beers named Kraftig and Kraftig Light. Regrettably, Billy Busch failed with his attempt to replicate the famous family's success, and in 2019, only eight years after the foundation, the company said to cease operations. (inside.beer, 10.7.2019)
The scion revealed his attempts to engage now with AB InBev regarding the possibility of buying back the brands from the St. Louis brewery, though he lamented that he has yet to receive any response from the multinational parent company. "I would be willing to buy back the brands," Busch shared, highlighting his continued interest in the family's brewing heritage.
As the news broke, Anheuser-Busch remained silent, with a spokesperson declining to provide immediate comment when contacted by DailyMail.com on Thursday morning.
Notably, AB InBev recently reported a 10.5 percent drop in U.S. revenue during the second quarter of the year, spanning from April to June. (inside.beer, 3.8.2023)
The decline followed the launch of the controversial marketing partnership for Bud Light with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney which triggered a backlash among conservatives and led to calls for a boycott of the popular beer. (inside.beer, 4.5.2023) As a result of the promotion and boycott calls, sales of Bud Light dramatically plummeted, leading to Bud Light, the best-selling beer in the United States, being dethroned from the top spot by Modelo Especial for the first time in 22 years. (inside.beer, 9.6.2023).
Despite these concerns, the company expressed optimism that its U.S. market share has stabilized.
The clash between a brewing dynasty scion's critique and the company's modern marketing efforts raises questions about balancing tradition and innovation in the beverage industry. As the debate continues, industry observers are keenly watching the developments to gauge the impact on both Anheuser-Busch and the wider market.