Latest reports suggest that Microsoft founder, Bill Gates has invested a whopping $95 million in Bud Light by purchasing its shares. The move comes as a surprise for many since the beverage company has been struggling to reel from its disastrous campaign with Dylan Mulvaney which took place in April 2023.
The Bud Light X Dylan Mulvaney Controversy
The boycott of Bud Light began on April 1, 2023, when Dylan Mulvaney, who is transgender and a well-known actor and social media influencer, uploaded a video to her Instagram account in order to advertise a Bud Light competition tied to March Madness. The video showed Mulvaney holding a can of Bud Light with her name on it and informing her followers of a chance to win tickets to the NCAA Final Four.
Mulvaney’s post gained praise from some of her 1.8 million followers, however, it also incurred criticism from right-wing public figures, politicians, and celebrities, who used transphobic language to criticize Bud Light for engaging in ‘woke’ advertising and linking it to the current political atmosphere, where anti-LGBTQ+ discourse and laws have been more frequent in conservative legislatures.
The campaign against Bud Light and Anheuser-Busch’s products quickly intensified, with some boycotters posting videos of themselves destroying beer cans and boxes in flames. Other participants called for people to switch to alternative beverages or other brands of beer. Several well-known figures, like Kid Rock, Trae Waynes, and Bri Teresi, voiced their support for the boycott.
The boycott of Anheuser-Busch had a considerable effect on its sales and character. According to Forbes, which referenced Nielsen data, Bud Light’s sales dropped by 10.5% during the second quarter of 2023 in the U.S., when compared to the same period in the preceding year. In addition, the brand relinquished its long-held position as the most popular beer in the country to Modelo Especial. Furthermore, Anheuser-Busch’s share price dropped by over 20%, going from $70.32 on April 1 to $55.76 on September 5.
Mulvaney has since assumed the role of a supporter of transgender rights, and was bestowed with a Streamy Award in 2023 as a ‘Breakout Creator’. She is now suing Anheuser-Busch for not honoring their contract and for neglecting to shield her from the harassment and threats prompted by the campaign, seeking a total of $50 million in damages.
Anheuser-Busch has not stopped trying to promote its premier product, Bud Light. In the biggest NFL campaign to date, they’ve begun the “Easy to Sunday” campaign which features new TV and online ads airing throughout the football season. As part of the campaign, there are 23 exclusive Bud Light cans that feature the colors, logos, and player illustrations of the NFL teams, though not all teams have taken part in the collaboration.
Bill Gates’ $1.7M Investment in Bud Light Sparks A Ray of Hope
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust’s trustee Bill Gates lodged a document with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that stated they had purchased 1,703,000 shares of BUD in August 2023. Bud Light has been enduring a public relations disaster since the beginning of April 2023, when they partnered with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney for a social media advertising initiative. This decision has been met with extreme criticism from conservatives and those opposed to the LGBTQ+ community.
A number of boycotts and demonstrations were triggered by the backlash, which had a drastic effect on the sales and stock value of Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) in the succeeding months. In spite of this, not everybody has abandoned the beer giant as one of the wealthiest and most influential people, Bill Gates has decided to invest his fortune in the company.
The approximate value of the shares is $95 million, as of the closing stock price of $55.76 on September 5th, 2023. However, this is not Bill Gates’ first foray into the beer industry. Earlier this year, he purchased a 3.8% stake in Heineken Holding NV, the parent company of Heineken NV, the world’s second-biggest brewer, for around $902 million.