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Anheuser-Busch to lay off hundreds of workers amid slumping sales of Bud Light

Inside the Bud Light-Dylan Mulvaney backlash
Bud Light and Dylan Mulvaney: Why the extreme backlash from a single social media post? 06:50

Anheuser-Busch InBev is laying off hundreds of employees as it grapples with months of slumping sales for Bud Light. 

In a statement, Anheuser-Busch said it is eliminating close to 2% of workers "across every corporate function." That represents about 380 of AB InBev's roughly 19,000 employees. The company didn't give a timeline for when the layoffs will begin.

Hammered by Modelo

Sales of Bud Light took a hit after the company designed a marketing campaign in April with social media star and trans rights activist Dylan Mulvaney. Amid calls from some conservatives for a boycott, Bud Light lost its longtime ranking in May as the nation's best-selling beer, with rival Modelo Especial taking the lead.

In the month ending July 15, Bud Light's U.S. sales were down 26.5%, while Modelo's were up 13.5%. Bud Light held a 6.8% share of the U.S. beer market in that period, while Modelo held an 8.7% share. 

AB InBev sold $71.5 million worth of Bud Light during the week ending July 16, compared with Modelo Especial which generated $90.3 million in sales that same week. Michelob Ultra came in third with $68.6 million in sales, according to data from sales tracker Circana.

"While we never take these decisions lightly, we want to ensure that our organization continues to be set for future long-term success," Anheuser-Busch Chief Executive Brendan Whitworth said in the statement. "These corporate structure changes will enable our teams to focus on what we do best — brewing great beer for everyone."

Anheuser-Busch CEO on Bud Light boycotts, his company's reponse and comeback strategy 09:04

The layoffs will not impact brewery workers, drivers, field salesman or warehouse staff, the company said.

The promotion with Mulvaney entailed an Instagram post by the social media influencer, in which she revealed a commemorative Bud Light can with her face on it, celebrating her "365 days of girlhood" series on her transition. That single post sparked an outcry from some conservatives, including singers Kid Rock and Travis Tritt, who called for a boycott of the popular beer. (Several media outlets have since reported that the brand has not been removed from the menu at Rock's Nashville bar where the beer is still being served, according to CNN correspondent Ryan Young.

Mulvaney said in the weeks following the promo that she felt abandoned by Bud Light, and faced "more bullying and transphobia than I could have ever imagined" over the post.

Meanwhile, members of the LGBTQ+ community have also called for boycotts, saying they have been disappointed by the brand's rigorous attempts to distance itself from Mulvaney and the original marketing message.

Even though Bud Light was no longer the nation's top selling beer in May, the brand has still sold more beer than any other brew so far this year, according to beverage industry experts. July and August will be pivotal months for Bud Light's sales growth, the experts added.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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