Bill Gates Makes a Big Bet on Brand Facing Conservative Boycott

In 2023, Anheuser-Busch InBev, traded under NYSE:BUD, grappled with significant obstacles. The firm was at the center of intense media attention due to a prominent transgender-related controversy stemming from a Bud Light advertisement. This scandal had severe repercussions, leading to a 20% decline in stock prices in May. Adding to their woes, over 300 U.S. employees were laid off.

The CEO appealed to the public, emphasizing the adverse effects of the boycott on their workforce. However, this approach didn't alleviate the situation. Consequently, Bud Light saw a drastic fall from being the premier beer choice to ranking 14th.

Despite ongoing boycotts, some remain optimistic about the brand's comeback potential. Notably, through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, Bill Gates procured 1,703,000 BUD shares, currently worth around $95 million.

Such an investment during Anheuser-Busch's rough patch demonstrates faith in the company's resilience and its potential to bounce back. For a business titan like Gates, this move could signify a long-term vision, indicating he anticipates the company's eventual growth and recuperation.

Interestingly, Gates, who has admitted to not being much of a beer enthusiast, had earlier committed $900 million to Heineken stocks right as the Bud Light issue was unfolding.

Facing a 10.5% dip in U.S. sales during its second quarter (April-June), Anheuser-Busch recently unveiled its most ambitious NFL campaign to date.

The "Easy to Sunday" campaign includes a mix of new TV and online spots set to broadcast throughout the football season. Additionally, exclusive Bud Light cans have been produced for 23 NFL teams, showcasing team hues, emblems, and athlete graphics. However, not all NFL teams have joined this unique Bud Light partnership.

The cans, which can now be found in stores, feature QR codes. When scanned, these codes offer a chance to secure one of 2,000 complimentary NFL Sunday Ticket subscriptions from YouTube and YouTube TV. Additionally, there are e-gift cards up for grabs, which can be used for NFL merchandise via Fanatics Inc.

In their newest advertisement, the company shines a light on "real fans and their Sunday traditions," as mentioned in a recent press statement. This narrative captures the journey of a Philadelphia Eagles enthusiast, who is also a military veteran. Her story showcases unwavering loyalty to her beloved team, even during her overseas stints, irrespective of the hour.

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