After nearly two weeks of backlash, including threats of a boycott movement and significant losses in market value to his company, Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth issued a statement related to Bud Light’s controversial decision to partner with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, but did not make mention of Mulvaney, transgenderism — or offer an apology to offended customers.
The controversy erupted at the start of the month when Mulvaney, a man who claims to be a woman, announced on Instagram: “Bud Light sent me possibly the best gift ever: a can with my face on it.” The video also included the hashtag #budlightpartner. In the days and weeks that followed, critics blasted Bud Light for its tone-deaf marketing and beer drinkers passed over it for other brands.
“We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people,” Whitworth said in a statement Friday. “We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”
Whitworth said that he is responsible “for ensuring every consumer feels proud of the beer we brew” and that the company proudly supports “our communities, military, first responders, sports fans, and hard-working Americans everywhere.” Whitworth added that he spends a lot of time “listening to and learning from our customers, distributors, and others.”
The statement failed to directly address the controversy that sent the company into a 13-day public relations crisis in the first place — their decision to collaborate with a man who has achieved internet fame by pretending to be a woman for the last year.
The CEO’s statement came nearly two weeks after Mulvaney appeared in an April 1 video showing off Bud Light cans with his face on them. Initially, there was confusion as to whether the April Fool’s Day announcement from Mulvaney was even real because Bud Light’s official social media pages and press page made no mention of a partnership with him.
But Bud Light confirmed and defended its partnership with Mulvaney on April 3, saying that custom beer cans were a “gift” for Mulvaney’s personal milestone, a reference to the 365 days Mulvaney has gone posting videos in make-up and women’s clothing.
While sources familiar with the matter later claimed to The Daily Wire that “no one at the senior level” of the company was aware of Bud Light’s polarizing partnership with Mulvaney, the company’s vice president of marketing recently touted her mandate to make the brand more “inclusive.”
Last week, the company issued a statement confirming the partnership and describing it as an attempt to “authentically connect with audiences across various demographics and passion points.”
The marketing stunt appears to have cost the company $5 billion in market value this week, and the backlash to the iconic American beer brand has been so intense that a Budweiser distributor in Missouri canceled an event with the company’s famous Clydesdale horses because everything was “still sensitive” over the matter.
Major conservative figures, including Kid Rock, Matt Walsh, Travis Tritt, John Rich, and Tucker Carlson, have been relentless in their criticism of Bud Light, and it’s not clear if the CEO’s recent statement will do anything to address their concerns.