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New details have emerged over what allegedly happened inside Anheuser Busch earlier this Spring that led to a highly controversial transgender influencer landing a paid marketing engagement with one of the company’s top brands, Bud Light, and how the company has responded to the backlash.
“No one at the senior level” of the company was aware of Bud Light’s polarizing partnership with Dylan Mulvaney, sources close to the situation claim. The company is also allegedly pausing its marketing efforts and scrambling to implement a more “robust” process for evaluating future influencer partnerships.
The claims come despite the company’s vice president of marketing recently touting her mandate to make the brand more “inclusive,” and after 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 controversy started when Mulvaney, a biological male who claims he is a woman, announced earlier this month on Instagram that “Bud Light sent me possibly the best gift ever: a can with my face on it.”
“Happy March Madness!!” Mulvaney wrote as a caption on the Instagram post. “Just found out this had to do with sports and not just saying it’s a crazy month! In celebration of this sports thing @budlight is giving you the chance to win $15,000! Share a video with #EasyCarryContest for a chance to win!! Good luck.” The video also included the hashtag #budlightpartner.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, there was initial confusion as to whether the announcement was real because Bud Light’s official social media pages and press page made no mention of a partnership with Mulvaney.
Influential conservative activist Rogan O’Handley, known as DC Draino on Twitter, said last week that sources inside the company told him that C-level executives were angered over the marketing engagement with Mulvaney. Former Newsmax host John Cardillo wrote on Twitter that it appeared that those same executives did not approve the Mulvaney campaign.
Looks like the Dylan Mulvaney campaign was not approved by senior execs.
Heads should roll. https://t.co/e301ZF2vDU
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) April 6, 2023
The Daily Wire spoke with two sources close to the situation who also claim that the decision to have Mulvaney be part of an advertising campaign targeting younger consumers was not approved by anyone in the “senior level” of the company.
“No one at a senior level was aware this was happening,” said one source, who was granted anonymity to discuss sensitive internal discussions. “Some low-level marketing staffer who helps manage the hundreds of influencer engagements they do must have thought it was no big deal. Obviously it was, and it’s a shame because they have a well-earned reputation for just being America’s beer — not a political company. It was a mistake.”
A second source also claimed that a lower level employee had made the decision to include Mulvaney in the campaign, a move that appears to have cost the company $5 billion in market value. 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.
The second source told The Daily Wire that the company was likely going to implement a more “robust” process for evaluating controversial figures in the future to avoid another public relations nightmare.
The claim that a lower level employee was allegedly behind the Mulvaney campaign comes after two female vice presidents at the company had previously championed inclusivity at the company.
Anheuser-Busch’s vice president of communications Jennifer Morris, who locked her Twitter account in recent days, said at an industry event in 2021 that she felt it was important to “leverage our scale and resources to further conversations around DE&I [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion] and help consumers understand the difference they can make as individuals.”
Bud Light vice president of marketing Alissa Heinerscheid claimed in a recent interview that she wanted “to evolve and elevate this incredibly iconic brand” and focus on “inclusivity” because she thought it was “in decline.”
“I’m a businesswoman, I had a really clear job to do when I took over Bud Light, and it was ‘This brand is in decline, it’s been in a decline for a really long time, and if we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand there will be no future for Bud Light,’” she said.
She added that she believed she had a “super clear” mandate to “evolve and elevate” the brand, and that means “having a campaign that’s truly inclusive, and feels lighter and brighter and different, and appeals to women and to men.”
“We had this hangover, I mean Bud Light had been kind of a brand of fratty, kind of out-of-touch humor, and it was really important that we had another approach,” she said. Photos have since emerged of her “enjoying [a] fratty party,” according to the New York Post.
According to Open Secrets, employees at the company donated significantly more money to Republican and conservative organizations than they did to Democratic or leftist organizations. The company generally donates to Republican and Democratic PACs, a sign that they largely do not want to get involved in choosing sides and would rather play nice with everyone. In the 2022 cycle, the company’s contributions favored Republicans.
The company has faced protests from the political Left in the past for donating to lawmakers who have pushed legislation that the far-left claims “discriminate[s] against transgender youths,” USA Today reported.
This article has been expanded to add more context.