Anheuser-Busch’s botched promotion featuring transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney has led to the closure of two glass bottling plants operated by Ardagh Group, a global glass producer and contractor for the company. As Bud Light continues to face significant financial losses and declining sales, approximately 645 employees will be laid off as a result of the plant closures in North Carolina and Louisiana, according to WRAL.
While the bottling company did not officially disclose the reason behind the closures, an investigation by WRAL revealed that the plants are shutting down due to plummeting Bud Light sales. Nationwide boycotts in response to the controversial Bud Light partnership with Mulvaney, known as “365 Days of Girlhood,” have adversely affected retailers, distributors, bars, and contracted companies associated with the brand.
Workers at the affected bottling plants reportedly observed a decrease in production after Mulvaney’s video announcement of the collaboration on social media gained attention in April. The impact of the boycott resulted in some machines being taken offline at the Louisiana and North Carolina plants, as noted by a machine repair mechanic interviewed by WRAL, who attributed it to “the Bud Light situation.”
An internal memo from Ardagh Group obtained by WRAL stated that the decision to close the two plants was due to slow sales with Anheuser-InBev. Longtime employees expressed little surprise at the closures, given that a significant portion of their business at those plants involved producing bottles for Budweiser and Bud Light.
Employees at the Wilson, North Carolina plant reportedly confirmed that their manager attributed the closure to the Bud Light boycott, with David Williams, a machine repair mechanic, stating, “‘Because of Budweiser no longer selling the bottle, they no longer needed our product.'”
Since the controversial promotion featuring Mulvaney and the subsequent backlash, Bud Light sales have suffered a decline that shows no signs of recovery. The brand has experienced substantial losses in market value and has taken various measures to mitigate the fallout. These steps include significant beer discounts, consumer rebates that make Bud Light practically free in certain markets, support for distributors, increased marketing efforts, a new summer ad campaign, and CEO Brendan Whitworth’s appearance on “CBS Mornings” to address the situation.
Despite these efforts, the negative sentiment surrounding the Bud Light brand persists, resulting in ongoing sales slides. NielsenIQ data provided to FOX Business by Bump Williams Consulting revealed that Bud Light sales were down 24.4% compared to the previous year for the week ending June 3. During the same period, Modelo Especial surpassed Bud Light as the top-selling beer brand on a dollar basis.
Mulvaney recently criticized the controversy surrounding Bud Light, highlighting the increased bullying and transphobia faced as a consequence. The transgender influencer also expressed disappointment with the lack of support from the company while dealing with transphobic incidents.