There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Dylan Mulvaney’s partnership with Bud Light has destroyed the brand. Anheuser-Busch faced its third-worst month in terms of company shares in May. There have also been reports of certain retailers giving away Bud Light beer for free. Furthermore, data provided to Newsweek by Bump Williams Consulting and Nielsen IQ indicated a significant decline in Bud Light’s sales volume, with a drop of 29.5% during the week ending on May 20 compared to the same period the previous year. Anheuser-Busch has reportedly suffered a staggering loss of $27 billion in market value since early April. To say the partnership with Mulvaney was a disaster is an understatement, and the marketing firm behind the partnership, San Francisco-based Capitv8, is now desperately trying to cope with the consequences.
The New York Post reports that Captiv8 is currently experiencing a state of “serious panic mode” due to the overwhelmingly negative response to Bud Light’s association with Mulvaney. Captiv8 specializes in comprehensive influencer marketing services, aiding major brands in connecting with influencers across various social media platforms to support their advertising campaigns.
Captiv8 was co-founded by Krishna Subramanian in 2015 and has since collaborated with prominent companies such as Walmart, American Express, Twitter, and KraftHeinz. Subramanian, an experienced Silicon Valley investor who previously sold BlueLithium to Yahoo for $300 million, has positioned himself as an authority on influencer marketing and has been available for media interviews. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal in February, Subramanian emphasized the significance of viral videos in relation to major advertising events like the Super Bowl, stating that TikTok serves as a conduit that guides consumers toward making purchases.
Although Captiv8 is credited with connecting Bud Light and Mulvaney, the exact extent of their involvement in the campaign remains unclear. Nevertheless, it is problematic for them, as it casts major doubt on the company’s ability to understand the brands it works with and their audiences. According to the report, the “firestorm” that erupted after Mulvaney posted a video of himself with Bud Light cans while taking a bubble bath “sparked anxiety and confusion inside Captiv8’s offices during the initial days of the controversy.” Additionally, “There was a lot of chatter” among employees about the potential backlash the firm might experience as a result. “Internally, the company was in serious panic mode,” the source added.
As it should be. Does Captiv8 understand the brands it purports to help, or is it really pushing an agenda? It doesn’t take a genius to understand who Bud Light’s consumer base was. Perhaps because Captiv8 is based in San Francisco, where it’s Pride Month all year long, it is too insulated from the values of regular Americans to understand that it was a terrible idea to suggest Bud Light partner with Mulvaney. While Bud Light’s higher-ups likely approved the collaboration, Captiv8 should face consequences for its role in this calamity, as well.
As Bud Light continues to suffer, it’s clear that should the bleeding eventually stop, it will take a long time for Anheuser-Busch to regain its consumers’ trust and restore the brand — if that’s even possible. Captiv8, as a marketing firm, should face consequences for its terrible judgment.