Donald Trump Proposes Giving Bud Light a ‘Second Chance’ Amid Ongoing Boycott of the Beer Maker

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Nearly a year after its ill-fated partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney, Bud Light is still trying to find its footing.

The embattled beer maker seemingly got an olive branch this week, however, when former President Donald Trump posted on social media that the company “deserves a second chance.”

On Wednesday’s show, Megyn was joined by Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank and O’Leary Ventures to discuss what went wrong for Bud Light and what the brand needs to do to repair its reputation and regain its customer base.

Bud Light’s Follies

In April 2023, Dylan Mulvaney posted a March Madness-themed promo video for Bud Light on social media. The campaign has since resulted in the brand losing billions of dollars in market share and its spot as the number one-selling beer in the United States.

To this day, Bud Light has not apologized for the partnership, though it quietly let go the marketing executives responsible for the collab and sought to return to ‘fratty’ humor in advertisements. Additionally, the brand announced last month that it entered a $100 million-a-year sponsorship deal with UFC, as celebrities like Kid Rock advocate for forgiving Bud Light. 

And now Trump appears to be entering the conversation. On his Truth Social platform on Tuesday, the 2024 GOP frontrunner suggested it may be time to give Bud Light “a second chance.”

“The Bud Light ad was a mistake of epic proportions, and for that a very big price was paid, but Anheuser-Busch is not a Woke company,” he wrote. “Anheuser-Busch is a Great American Brand that perhaps deserves a Second Chance? What do you think? Perhaps, instead, we should be going after those companies that are looking to DESTROY AMERICA!”

The post came on the heels of Jeff Miller, a lobbyist for Anheuser-Busch, sharing on X that he will be hosting a fundraiser for the former president next month with some tickets going for as much as $10,000 each.

Can Bud Light Recover?

Reaction to Trump’s query has been mixed, and Megyn believes that stems from the way Bud Light continues to handle the fallout. “I really think [the CEO] could find forgiveness if he came out and said, ‘We screwed up. We misjudged our audience, our base, and we want to say out loud: We hear you. We’re sorry for the partnership… We hope you’ll allow us to make it right,'” she said. “I think people are forgiving, but what [Bud Light] wants is forgiveness without the apology.”

O’Leary said the backlash against Bud Light was unlike anything the market had ever seen. “Just think about losing billions of dollars of market share from one 15-second [post]… That’s never happened before,” he explained. “The power of that messaging was so viral that it cost billions of dollars that the brand still hasn’t survived.”

Bud Light has become a case study O’Leary uses to teach about the dangers of social media and not understanding your audience. “That’s the case I teach now and say, ‘Look, we talk about risk mitigation… but none of these S&P 500 public companies have set up for social media risk because often they don’t control their own messaging or they don’t think about what they’re putting out there,'” he said. “Now they have to.”

As O’Leary explained, Bud Light – first and foremost – lost sight of its customer. “In the case of Bud Light, beer is a total commodity… The only difference is the brand and what that brand means to the consumer,” he said. “We know the target audience for beer and we also know that they don’t want to be educated on gender neutrality. That’s not of interest to them… It just doesn’t fit.”

But that wasn’t all. The brand also failed in the cleanup. “They whacked the marketing people,” O’Leary noted. “But at the end of the day, you’re the CEO and you lose billions, I think you have to look at yourself and say, ‘What did I learn from this, and am I going to be able to fix it at all?'”

That’s the question that O’Leary is not sure Bud Light knows the answer to. “Everything they’ve tried hasn’t worked. You just see that slow grind down in market share,” he concluded. “Keep reminding your customers why they hate you every day. How dumb is that?”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with O’Leary by tuning in to episode 719 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.