Bud Light has taken a massive hit since it partnered with transgender influencer and activist Dylan Mulvaney last month. The brand has tried to rehabilitate itself with conservative consumers with Americana-saturated advertisements as well as camo- and Harley Davidson-themed cans, but bad news keeps rolling in for the company.
Sales for Bud Light declined 23.6% in the week ending on May 6 relative to the same period last year, marking a fifth straight week of plummeting demand. Additionally, other major brands that belong to Bud Light’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch, have taken a major hit, with sales of Budweiser, Michelob Ultra, and Natural Light falling 9.7%, 2.9%, and 2.5%, respectively, in the same period. Major international bank HSBC even downgraded Anheuser-Busch’s stock to a hold status, meaning investors are advised to neither buy nor sell the stock, over the fallout from the controversy.
One of the competing beer brands that has seen a significant increase in sales in the wake of the Bud Light debacle is Miller Lite, which is owned by parent company Molson Coors. Miller Lite’s sales increased 16.9% in dollar sales and almost 12% in volume by the end of April, and other Molson Coors brands like Coors Lite saw similar windfalls.
Molson Coors, a Canadian-American company, is the biggest rival to Anheuser-Busch in the American beer market. Its most famous brands, Coors Lite and Miller Lite, are two of the top 10 best-selling beers in America and are the only beers on that list that aren’t owned by AB InBev, Anheuser-Busch’s parent company. Other well-known brands owned by the company include Blue Moon and Keystone.
Most likely trying to capitalize on Bud Light’s decline, Coors released an advertisement for Coors Banquet last week featuring “Yellowstone” star Cole Hauser that made sure to stress Coors’ rough-and-tumble reputation as a favorite brew of “rock stars, smugglers, cowboys, and presidents.”
But Molson Coors released another ad during Women’s History Month back in March that went relatively unnoticed at the time, but now that it resurfaced this week, could shine a brighter light on the company’s social justice sympathies and cause a new beer backlash.
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The ad in question featured female comedian Ilana Glazer, who supports the usual bevy of leftist causes (abortion, gun control, climate change, etc.) and identifies as queer. In the commercial, she claimed that women were “among the first to brew beer ever” and declared that the beer industry needed to atone for its previous marketing campaigns that featured women in bikinis. The ad also promised to donate fertilizer so that female brewers could grow hops, the flowers used as a bittering and stability agent in beer.
“Here’s a little-known fact: women were among the very first to brew beer ever. From Mesopotamia to the Middle Ages to colonial America, women were the ones doing the brewing. Centuries later, how did the industry pay homage to the founding mothers of beer? They put us in bikinis,” Glazer said. “Look at this $#!T. Wild. It’s time beer made it up to women, so today Miller Lite is on a mission to clean up not just their $#!T, but the whole beer industry’s $#!T. Miller Lite has been scouring the internet for all this $#!T and buying it back so that they can turn it into good $#!T for women brewers.”
After the video resurfaced and the backlash began on social media, Miller Lite used the same tactic that Bud Light had unsuccessfully tried after the Dylan Mulvaney controversy: downplay the whole thing.
“This video was about two things: worm poop and saying women shouldn’t be forced to mud wrestle in order to sell beer,” a company spokesperson said. “Neither of these things should be remotely controversial and we hope beer drinkers can appreciate the humor (and ridiculousness) of this video from back in March.”
But this ad isn’t some one-off designed to pander to women during Women’s History Month; it’s only a single example of Molson Coors’ long history of supporting woke causes.
Soon after the Women’s History Month resurfaced, Twitter sleuths discovered a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) video from Molson Coors that suggested the Glazer ad was part of a wider strategy from the company.
“The role of diversity, equity and inclusion is the responsibility of all employees, every single day. We each own a role in making diversity, equity and inclusion part of everything we do – from how we work together to how we grow our company,” the narrator said in the video.
“The role of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is the responsibility of all employees, every single day”
Here is Miller Lite’s internal Woke messaging for their employees. Either you support DEI or you can’t work there. pic.twitter.com/XS8ifLjRoD
— Mythinformed (@MythinformedMKE) May 17, 2023
According to the video and the company’s most recent Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) report, it is dedicated to increasing its “women workforce representation globally” and tracking the percentages of board members, senior managers, and salaried employees who are females. Outside of the U.S., Molson Coors covers “gender-affirming treatment” as part of its Canadian employees’ healthcare plan.
Molson Coors is also monitoring the number of racial minorities that are employed at the company and established a target to spend $1 billion with “diverse suppliers” from 2021 to 2023. It also supports “dozens of black, indigenous and people of color” organizations that are explicitly “dedicated to social justice.”
“Leading with our most important value to put people first, we continue to take steps forward on our DEI journey,” Molson Coors CEO Gavin Hattersley said in a statement prominently featured on the company’s website. “For it is only through the unique experiences and perspectives from our people that we will drive long-term change for our company, our communities and society as a whole.”
Additionally, Coors Light has sponsored Denver PrideFest for several years and supports several LGBT organizations. Coors Light has even referred to itself as “refreshingly proud” and boasted that it “has been committed to supporting the LGBT community for nearly 30 years and continues to champion equality for all.” The LGBT advocacy organization GLAAD has described Coors as “among the most progressive for its employee policies toward gays.”
Bud Light stepped on a landmine when it decided to partner with Mulvaney, and now many of its other woke initiatives have come under scrutiny alongside the ongoing boycott. Meanwhile, Molson Coors, which has engaged in this type of rhetoric for decades in some instances, has until recently flown under the radar of conservatives. It’s doubtful that the Women’s History Month ad inspires a backlash as sustained and damaging as the one that is still hammering Anheuser-Busch, but it could make more conservatives aware of how entrenched these ideas are in some of the most popular companies in the country.