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AB InBev US chief marketing officer to resign as Bud Light woes continue

Anheuser-Busch InBev’s U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Benoit Garbe will be resigning at the end of the year “in order to embark on a new chapter in his career,” per a statement from the brewing giant. The news comes as AB InBev continues to feel the effects of a boycott of Bud Light.

U.S. Chief Commercial Officer Kyle Norrington will be “fully dedicated” to marketing moving forward, overseeing brand plans and portfolio strategy, insights, analytics and investments. Beer Marketer’s Insights and Beer Business Daily first reported the news, citing communications sent to wholesalers.

Garbe was appointed U.S. CMO in September 2021 after serving as the company’s U.S. chief strategy officer. Norrington, previously president of AB InBev-owned Labatt brewery, took on the sales- and marketing-focused chief commercial officer position at the same time.

“Today we announced key changes to our U.S. leadership team that reduce layers within our organization and better enable our top commercial leaders to drive our business and legacy forward,” AB InBev U.S. CEO Brendan Whitworth said in a statement. “These senior leadership changes will accelerate our return to growth as we continue to focus on what we do best — brewing great beer for everyone and earning our place in moments that matter.”

A backlash against Bud Light followed an April collaboration with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney that drew the ire of conservative commentators and consumers. The company also came under fire from liberals who felt it did not sufficiently stand by Mulvaney in the wake of controversy. 

The boycott knocked Bud Light off its perch as the top beer in the U.S., and led the company to put two of the executives who oversaw the collaboration on leave. Alissa Heinerscheid, Bud Light’s vice president of marketing, and Daniel Blake, group vice president of marketing for AB InBev’s mainstream brands, took leaves of absence that were not voluntary.

AB InBev saw revenue increase by 5% in Q3 2023 despite a 3.4% decline in total volumes. Sales-to-retailers decreased by 16.6%, primarily due to the volume decline of Bud Light, per the company’s earnings report. On an earnings call, CEO Michel Doukeris noted a survey that found over 40% of lapsed Bud Light drinkers are now more open to returning to the beer, confirming that the company is “moving in the right direction.”

Since the boycott, AB InBev has invested significantly in Bud Light’s marketing, rolling out the brand’s biggest summer campaign ever and working to return the brand’s focus to core tenets like sports and music.

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