Benoit Garbe, the U.S. marketing chief for Anheuser-Busch, announced his resignation effective at the end of the year, following a significant downturn in the company’s sales linked to a marketing campaign featuring Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender-identifying male influencer.
Garbe has been overseeing Anheuser-Busch’s portfolio in the U.S., which includes beers, canned cocktails and nonalcoholic beverages since 2021.
Anheuser-Busch, in a statement, confirmed Garbe’s departure, stating he is leaving “to embark on a new chapter in his career.” The company’s CEO, Brendan Whitworth, commented on the leadership changes in a statement to the New York Post, saying, “This week we announced key changes to our US leadership team that reduce layers within our organization and better enable our top commercial leaders to drive our business and legacy forward.”
“These senior leadership changes will accelerate our return to growth as we continue to focus on what we do best — brewing great beer for everyone and earning our place in moments that matter,” Whitworth continued.
Kyle Norrington, currently the U.S. Chief Commercial Officer at Anheuser-Busch, is set to assume Garbe’s responsibilities starting next year. The company has experienced other notable departures, including Alissa Heinerscheid, Bud Light’s marketing VP, and Daniel Blake, group VP of Anheuser-Busch’s mainstream portfolio. Both were placed on leave following the controversy surrounding the Mulvaney campaign.
The partnership with Mulvaney earlier this year was intended to promote Bud Light. However, it backfired, leading to a widespread boycott and a significant drop in sales. This decline resulted in Bud Light losing its position as America’s top-selling beer, a title it held for over two decades.
Mulvaney, reflecting on the backlash, expressed disappointment with the negative response and for Anheuser-Busch’s perceived lack of support for the gender-bending Instagram influencer.
“If you’re going to ask us to capitalize on our vulnerabilities and our traumas, at least have our backs when the going gets tough,” Mulvaney told Seth Matlins, managing director of the Forbes CMO Network, at the 2023 Forbes CMO Summit in Miami. Mulvaney suggested that companies should engage in genuine partnerships with trans-identified spokespersons rather than resort to what Mulvaney termed “performative” marketing.
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