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The recent backlash that Bud Light has faced over its decision to partner with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney for a marketing engagement has led to hundreds of people losing their jobs at two glass bottling plants, according to a new report.
The Ardagh Group, an international glass manufacturer, announced that it was shutting down a plant in Wilson, North Carolina, this month, which employs approximately 400 people.
The company also reportedly plans to close a plant in Ruston, Louisiana, which employs 245 people.
The company said in a statement:
Our multi-year performance optimization program, involving targeted investments in enhanced capacity and ongoing cost optimization, underpins our ability to continue to provide existing and prospective customers with high quality, American-made sustainable glass packaging.
While the company did not give a specific reason as to why the plants were closing, internal company documents from mid-May obtained by NBC affiliate WRAL News said that the company was shutting down the production lines “due to slow sales with Anheuser Inbev,” the parent company of Bud Light.
The publication said “multiple longtime employees” at the North Carolina plant confirmed they primarily made bottles for Bud Light and Budweiser.
Anheuser-Busch has lost billions of dollars in market value since the controversy erupted with Mulvaney in early April, and new numbers released late last month show that weekly sales for Bud Light have continued to plummet, dropping 26.8% for the week ending June 10.
“This was a tough week for Bud Light and other beer brands,” said Bump Williams Consulting and NielsenIQ. Beer sales as a whole declined the week ending June 10, including Budweiser (10%), Natural Light (2.3%), and Michelob Ultra (2.4%).
Mulvaney, a man who claims he is a woman, criticized Anheuser-Busch in a video posted on social media last week, saying he wanted to address the issue because he had an “uncomfy” feeling that he wanted to get off his chest.
“I took a brand deal with a company that I loved. And I posted a sponsored video to my page,” Mulvaney said. “And it must have been a slow news week, because the way that this ad got blown up, you would have thought I was like, on a billboard, or on a TV commercial or something major — but no, it was just an Instagram video.”
The ad, which featured Mulvaney showing off a special can that had his face on it, led to “more bullying and transphobia than I could have ever imagined,” Mulvaney said.
“For a company to hire a trans person and then not publicly stand by them is worse in my opinion than not hiring a trans person at all,” he added. “Because it gives customers permission to be as transphobic and hateful as they want. And the hate doesn’t end with me, it has serious and grave consequences for the rest of our community.”
Anheuser-Busch responded to Mulvaney’s statement by saying it remains “committed to the programs and partnerships we have forged over decades with organizations across a number of communities, including those in the LGBTQ+ community.”