USA: AB InBev ‘s US CMO stepping down as Bud Light sales continue to sink

Anheuser-Busch InBev’s US chief marketing officer is stepping down after the company reported a slump in Bud Light sales, as the backlash against the beer continues, CNN reported on November 15.

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Source:  Company news

In a statement on November 15, Anheuser-Busch said Benoit Garbe, the company’s US chief marketing officer, “will be resigning at the end of the year in order to embark on a new chapter in his career.”

Garbe has been CMO for just over two years, according to his LinkedIn profile. The company said its US chief commercial officer Kyle Norrington will oversee marketing going forward.

The world’s biggest brewer reported a 13.5% decline in third-quarter US revenue per 100 litres, a key measure of beer sales. The brand’s Bud Light customers abandoned the beer after it partnered with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney and botched its response to the controversy.

The executive reshuffling will “reduce layers within our organization and better enable our top commercial leaders to drive our business and legacy forward,” said Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth in a statement.

AB InBev said that sales to US retailers declined nearly 17% “primarily due to the volume decline of Bud Light.” In response, the company cut deals with wholesalers, including writing checks to distributors, and increasing marketing spend on the brand. But that took a toll on the company’s bottom line, and contributed to a 29% decline in adjusted US earnings.

Bud Light lost its long-held top-selling American beer title to rival Modelo after its short partnership with Mulvaney.

But AB InBev still wants to turn things around — and ditching its CMO may be one of the steps.

According to the company’s research, more than 40% of lapsed Bud Light customers said they’re willing to give the brand another chance, said AB InBev CEO Michel Doukeris during a November 14 analyst call discussing the company’s third-quarter results. “This gives us some certainty that we are moving in the right direction,” he said, noting that the brand’s performance has been improving. “We have a good grip on what we need to do and how we are proceeding from here.