In mid-April 2023, various social media posts and articles claimed that a right-wing protest over Bud Light's marketing partnership with trans TikTok celebrity Dylan Mulvaney resulted in a multibillion-dollar loss for its parent company, Anheuser-Busch. The purported losses ranged from $4 billion to $7 billion.
"Bud Light has lost 7 billion so far," tweeted actor Kevin Sorbo on April 12. "Pretty sure that's not good."
Sorbo, like other social media accounts alleging multibillion-dollar losses for the beer company, did not cite sources to substantiate the claim. Media outlets such as the Daily Mail and the New York Post cited stock market data about the brewer's losses. The New York Post said that since March 31, 2023, the loss was about 4% and added that Bud Light's parent company lost $5 billion. The Daily Mail reported that Anheuser-Busch lost $6 billion since announcing its partnership with Mulvaney. The Daily Mail wrote:
Bud Light's parent company has lost more than $6 billion in market capitalization since announcing its partnership with a polarizing transgender internet personality.
Unveiled on April 2, the brand's alliance with 26-year-old Dylan Mulvaney has since incited outrage and calls for a boycott - and now appears to be hitting Anheuser-Busch where it matters most: in the wallet.
The rumors were in reference to a widespread social media campaign by conservatives to boycott Bud Light after the company tapped Mulvaney to promote Bud Light's "March Madness" contest. Under the premise of the social media posts and articles, the boycott was taking a financial toll on Anheuser-Busch.
There was no evidence to support the claim of a causal link between the calls for a Bud Light boycott in April 2023 and the company's financial standing. Snopes reached out to Anheuser-Busch's but we did not hear from the company as of this writing. We will update this story when, or if, that changes.
Looking at financial data, Anheuser-Busch's stock value ebbed and flowed after March 31, 2023. According to YCharts, a financial research firm, the market cap of Anheuser-Busch was $132.38 billion on that day; $131.6 billion on April 6 when the campaign to boycott Bud Light picked up steam; and $125.73 billion on April 12.
On April 3, the first Monday after news of Bud Light's partnership with Mulvaney spread, the value was $132.06 billion. Between April 3 ($132.06 billion) and April 12 (125.73 billion), the company's market cap lost $6.33 billion, according to the data by YCharts.
There was no demonstrable connection between the above-outlined statistics and conservative calls to stop buying Bud Light, just one of Anheuser-Busch's many products. As with all stocks, multiple factors affect market changes, such as political climate, competition, etc. – not just consumer behavior.
Experts said that such market declines are common. For example, the value of AB InBev BUD shares was $58.05 on Feb. 10, 2023, went up to $62.08 on March 3, and then declined to $59.78, on March 7. "[Such] declines are historically not unusual," wrote Dan Hunt, senior investment strategist at Morgan Stanley.
Similarly, Nicole Goodkind of CNN Business explained companies make more comebacks from declines than the other way around. "The 14 bull markets since 1932 have returned 175% on average, while the 14 bear markets starting in 1929 have resulted in an average loss of 39%, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices data," Goodkind wrote.
In reality, as of this writing, the financial impact of the protest remains unknown. There was no financial data to determine if, or to what extent, the calls to stop buying Bud Light had impacted Anheuser-Busch's market value. A MarketWatch piece explained:
For now, there's no hard data on the financial fallout of the Bud Light protest. But the brand, analysts say, had already become less relevant in the U.S. to both beer drinkers and to Budweiser's parent company, Belgium-based AB InBev BUD.
The MarketWatch piece said "the impact of any right-wing backlash could be eclipsed by a broader slowdown in the beer industry as inflation cuts into consumer purchases, craft beer becomes a barroom staple and brewers crank out a seemingly endless rotation of sours and hazy IPAs that more or less taste the same."
Meanwhile, a satirical and demonstrably false assertion surfaced online that another Anheuser-Busch beer, Budweiser, had lost $800 million in one day. Snopes fact-checked other satirical claims that surfaced about the alleged effects of the boycott on Anheuser-Busch, as well.