Trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney has been the target of rightwing abuse for the past month, with even a sitting member of Congress calling her a “pedophile” just because she did a brand partnership deal with Bud Light. And instead of supporting her, Bud Light’s owners are trying to distance themselves from the partnership.
Now Colorado’s gay governor is vowing to boycott Budweiser after the beer company’s latest attempt to disavow Mulvaney.
On April 1, Mulvaney posted a 50-second video to Instagram with some custom Bud Light cans with her face on them. Over the next month, conservatives lost their minds posting videos as they dumped out Bud Light beer and shot up cases of Bud Light with semiautomatic rifles. Elected Republicans claimed that Mulvaney was a pedophile (without any evidence at all) and that the global balance of power would be upset by Mulvaney’s Instagram video. Others said that they were boycotting Bud Light, often switching to other LGBTQ+-friendly brands.
By the end of April, Bud Light’s parent company – Anheuser-Busch – had put out a weak statement saying that it “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people… We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”
“It’s pretty annoying to be both-sides-ing something when the two sides are, ‘I am trans,” and ‘That makes me so mad I’m going to shoot $65 worth of non-refundable beer,’” comedian John Oliver joked about the statement at the time.
Now Anheuser-Busch CEO Michel Doukeris was caught distancing the company from Mulvany on a call with investors.
“We need to clarify the facts that this was one can, one influencer, one post and not a campaign,” he said in comments reported in the conservative New York Post. Many conservatives have incorrectly referred to the brand partnership as an “ad campaign.”
“We will continue to learn, meet the moment in time, all be stronger and we work tirelessly to do what we do best: Bring people together over a beer and creating a future of more cheers,” he said, adding that the company will triple its media spending for Bud Light over the summer. Left unsaid was whether any of that money will be spent advertising to LGBTQ+ customers turned off by the brand’s handling of the situation.
“I have been boycotting Budweiser my entire life, then I was thinking about ending my boycott the last few weeks. But now I’ve decided to keep my lifelong boycott,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) tweeted yesterday.
He quoted a tweet that referred to Doukeris’s call with investors but misattributed another quote – that the Mulvaney/Bud Light partnership happened “without management awareness” – to Doukeris. The latter quote is actually from a letter sent by Grey Eagle, a distributor in the St. Louis area, to its clients. It’s not clear if Grey Eagle’s letter is an accurate reflection of Anheuser-Busch’s position.
Doukeris also spoke to the extent of damage that the conservative boycott of Bud Light did to the brand.
“The Bud Light volume decline in the U.S. over the first three weeks of April, as publicly reported, would represent around 1% of our overall global volumes for that period,” he said on the Thursday investor call.