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Senators Contend Anheuser-Busch Was Marketing To Minors With Dylan Mulvaney Push

   DailyWire.com
Dylan Mulvaney
JC Olivera via Getty Images

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) called on the Beer Institute, a trade association that represents producers of the beverage, to examine whether Anheuser-Busch improperly marketed to minors through a recent promotion between Bud Light and social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Bud Light garnered widespread controversy after the brand nodded toward Mulvaney, a man who claims to be a woman, by sending him a beer can emblazoned with his likeness. Cruz and Blackburn requested that the Beer Institute’s Code Compliance Review Board open an investigation to determine whether Anheuser-Busch broke the trade association’s marketing guidelines by soliciting a spokesperson with a large following among minors.

“We believe that Anheuser-Busch’s clear failure to exercise appropriate due diligence when selecting online influencers for its marketing efforts warrants detailed oversight by Congress,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Brendan Whitworth, who serves as both chief executive officer of Anheuser-Busch and chairman of the Beer Institute.

The letter noted that Mulvaney has some 10.8 million followers on TikTok and 1.8 million followers on Instagram. Beyond the “Days of Girlhood” series that made the influencer a sensation, Mulvaney has videos in which he shopped for Barbie dolls in a Target store, dressed as a small child, and handed out merchandise to teenage girls at a mall.

“An objective survey of Dylan Mulvaney’s content clearly presents a faux, pre-pubescent girl persona that is created and presented to specifically appeal to young viewers,” the letter said.

Cruz and Blackburn referenced market research data noting that Instagram is an “ideal platform” for companies seeking to reach users between 16 and 24 years of age, while the majority of account owners on TikTok are between 13 and 24 years of age.

The lawmakers compared the Bud Light and Mulvaney partnership to the “discredited and now illegal marketing campaigns of cigarette manufacturers that used youth-favored advertising tools such as ‘Joe Camel’ in an attempt to develop early brand loyalty with children who were legally prohibited from smoking cigarettes.” They likewise cited comments from Alissa Heinerscheid, the former vice president of marketing for Bud Light who has since taken a leave of absence from Anheuser-Busch, who said that “if we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand there will be no future for Bud Light.”

Guidelines from the Beer Institute state that companies should only seek to advertise on digital media platforms where at least roughly three-quarters of users are “adults of legal drinking age.”

The letter from Cruz and Blackburn, both of whom are members of the Senate Commerce Committee, occurs as previous consumers of Bud Light take their business elsewhere. Market data indicate that weekly sales for Bud Light have continued to decline by nearly 25% relative to the same periods last year several weeks after the initial backlash, even as other Anheuser-Busch brands which took hits could be starting to recover from the controversy.

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Executives for Anheuser-Busch have downplayed the extent of the partnership and hired veteran Republican lobbyists in various efforts to win back conservatives who once consumed the brew. The company meanwhile seems to have offended those on both ends of the political spectrum: leftists and owners of gay bars across the country threatened to launch additional boycotts after the firm backed away from Mulvaney.

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