The brand partnership between Bud Light and social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney appears to have alienated both conservatives and leftists as members of the latter group criticize the brand for halfheartedly recanting support for the self-described transgender social media star.
Several reports indicate that Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Bud Light, has hemorrhaged sales after executives partnered with Mulvaney, a man who claims to be a woman and chronicled his purported gender transition on social media. Executives for the beverage firm have offered vague apologies, downplayed the extent of the campaign, and even hired veteran Republican lobbyists in various attempts to win back disgruntled conservatives.
The superficial attempts to back away from Mulvaney, on the other hand, appear to have angered members of the LGBTQ movement, who are now demanding that Anheuser-Busch support the ideology or face another boycott effort from the other side of the political spectrum.
Jay Brown, a senior vice president at the Human Rights Campaign, wrote a letter to Anheuser-Busch last week asking the firm to release a statement explicitly supporting Mulvaney and to implement transgender inclusion training for executives. “In this moment, it is absolutely critical for Anheuser-Busch to stand in solidarity with Dylan and the trans community,” the document said, according to a report from The Hill. “However, when faced with anti-LGBTQ+ and transphobic criticism, Anheuser-Busch’s actions demonstrate a profound lack of fortitude in upholding its values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Stacy Lentz, a co-owner of the Stonewall Inn, widely considered the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ political movement, said in an interview with Newsweek that Anheuser-Busch had “missed an opportunity to stand by their commitment to the trans community by pandering to and giving into transphobic outcries.” She predicted that “as a brand they will be extinct in a few years if they are not fully on the side of equality,” citing the left-wing values broadly held by young Americans.
Activists hosted a demonstration two years ago outside of the Stonewall Inn during which they poured beverages distributed by Anheuser-Busch into a nearby gutter. The protests were meant to criticize donations the company provided to lawmakers who sought to limit the spread of radical gender theory. Anheuser-Busch responded to the criticism at the time by noting that the company has “received a perfect 100% score from the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for LGBTQ Equality.”
Lentz expressed sympathy for Mulvaney and contended that the influencer, who has received several brand deals from other corporations, was “caught in the middle of a horrible firestorm.”
John Casey, a contributor with The Advocate and a public relations executive, meanwhile wrote in an opinion piece for the LGBTQ publication that Anheuser-Busch “poured alcohol all over an extremist’s fire” rather than rising “to the defense of a transgender woman” and defending “a noble campaign that sought to reflect acceptance.”
“Maybe the worst thing the company did was leave Mulvaney all alone, twisting in the wind, abandoning any kind of defense of her. That is an utterly repugnant reflection of the brand,” he commented. “It’s not Kid Rock and Ted Nugent who should be boycotting Bud Light. It should be us.”