Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has taken issue with Budweiser and its parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, over a recent promotional campaign featuring a transgender influencer. DeSantis has threatened legal action on behalf of Florida since part of the state’s pension fund includes stock from the company. In a letter posted on Twitter to Florida Interim Board of Administration Executive Director Lamar Taylor, DeSantis criticized the company’s use of a trans person in its advertising, referring to it as “radical social ideologies.”
Following the campaign, Bud Light sales, along with some other brands under the company, have suffered, and in April, Modelo Especial surpassed Bud Light as the best-selling beer in the U.S. Bud Light’s sales plummeted approximately 24% year-over-year for the week ending on June 3. However, despite this decline, the company’s stock has actually seen a 7.89% increase over the past 12 months.
DeSantis expressed concern that AB InBev may have breached its legal duties to shareholders, hinting at a potential shareholder action. He described Bud Light’s fall from being the top-selling beer in the U.S. as “staggering” and stated that all options are being considered.
Since the controversial campaign, Budweiser has been attempting to distance itself from trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Budweiser: the Official Sponsor of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup
In an interview with analysts in May, Michel Doukeris, the chief executive of Anheuser-Busch, expressed the company’s dedication to beer and its promotion. Doukeris’s words reflect Budweiser’s commitment as the official sponsor of the upcoming 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
With the tournament on the horizon, industry experts view it as an ideal opportunity for sponsors to refocus their brand messaging. However, there has been no response from representatives of Governor DeSantis’s office or AB InBev regarding their thoughts on this matter.
Governor DeSantis has a history of engaging in conflicts with publicly traded companies, particularly on issues related to gender identity. Notably, Disney and DeSantis have been embroiled in a year-long feud since the entertainment giant publicly opposed Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Describing DeSantis’s actions as “anti-business,” Disney President Bob Iger has repeatedly criticized the governor for being too “woke.”
In May 2023, we covered the news that Disney’s board had implemented several restrictions, including banning tattoo parlors, liquor stores, and adult entertainment, prior to DeSantis taking office.
Governor DeSantis is just one of several Republicans vying for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2024. However, early primary polls indicate that former president Donald Trump maintains a significant lead over all other candidates. The inaugural Republican presidential debate for the 2024 election cycle is scheduled to take place on August 23 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
As of now, AB InBev’s stock has experienced a year-to-date decline of 2.48% in 2023.