We have been cataloging the demise of Bud Light for months. It was on April 1, 2023, when the country’s leading beer brand revealed it was partnering with Dylan Mulvaney, and in the intervening three months it has been through an absolute meltdown that will become legendary in the realm of corporate missteps.
I recently detailed the cost this has brought onto Anheuser-Busch as they have been engaged in both product buybacks as well as compensating the sales force in an effort to retain their teams.
This has been far more than one bad decision leading to the #1 selling beer in America for decades plunging in sales and popularity. When a video interview with brand Vice President Alissa Heinerscheid was revealed, calling her customers “fratty” and needing to recalibrate their thinking, it granted their customers full permission to walk away from their chosen suds. Things only continued to spin out of control for the brewer following that revelation.
There was a noticeable lag between the initial blowup and the company taking action. There has been no real recognition of their having made an error and nothing in the form of an apology that so many have expected. It was three weeks before it was said Heinerscheid, and her superior, would be taking a leave of absence, and that appeared more as a move of waiting for things to blow over (There is some contention about Henerscheid ultimately being let go, but honestly, what would be the purpose of keeping her?).
In this newly-evolving marketplace, Molson-Coors has made some moves. While its light beer has expectantly benefitted from the flight from Bud Light the brewer is looking to also bolster its flagship brand, and it is doing so in a savvy fashion. Long known to sell its Coors Banquet label with the throaty southern voice of actor Sam Elliot (most recall his “Coooooors…the banquet of beers” delivery), in a reflection of that campaign the beer has tapped “Yellowstone” actor Cole Hauser, who plays the iconic anti-hero cowboy Rip Wheeler, as its new spokesman.
The ad was first revealed in May and you see the subtle departure in the ad copy, establishing who the beer is brewed for: “When you’re the favorite beer of rock stars, smugglers, cowboys, and presidents…” The choice is rather clear – do you want to drink the beer of Dylan Mulvaney, or Rip Wheeler?
This is the right time to get traction with other labels, and Molson-Coors is making the right move. As Bud Light has turned flat most other competing beer brands have experienced the benefits. A few brewers, including A-B InBev are reporting quarterly figures this week. As Bud Light has dropped over the 12-week span by more than 27 percent, other brews have clearly benefitted.
Modelo, as most have heard, has moved into the top-selling position by the end of June. Also Coors Light jumped 17.3 percent, Miller Light saw 14.3 percent, and Corona Light had a 3 percent bump. With former Bud Light drinkers seeking out new brands for their pint glasses this is the time to establish your label. The new campaign with Hauser has already been successful.
As the brewer has seen its best quarter in volume sales over the past 15 years, Coors Banquet has enjoyed double-digit growth, aided by the new ad campaign. Rip Wheeler would be impressed with corralling these kinds of numbers.