Beer magnate Anheuser-Busch has found itself in the eye of a storm following its recent partnership with transgender influencer, Dylan Mulvaney.
An initiative intended to celebrate Mulvaney’s first full year of womanhood with a personalized Bud Light beer can met with severe backlash. Mulvaney, distressed by online “bullying and transphobia,” expected support from Anheuser-Busch, but alleged that the company didn’t reach out.
“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 because it gives customers permission to be as transphobic and hateful as they want,” Mulvaney stated.
Responding to this, Anheuser-Busch issued a generic statement pledging support to the LGBTQ+ community, without mentioning Mulvaney directly. A company spokesperson said, “As we’ve said, we remain committed to the programs and partnerships we have forged over decades with organizations across a number of communities, including those in the LGBTQ+ community.”
The controversy has led to a persistent Bud Light boycott, a significant slump in Bud Light sales, and a drop in Anheuser-Busch’s market value by $36.8 billion since late March. According to data from NielsenIQ, Bud Light sales were down by over 24 percent compared to a year ago.
Moreover, Bud Light has lost its No. 1 spot as the top-selling beer brand to Modelo Especial for the four week and single week period ending June 3. Other competitors, including Coors Light and Miller Lite, have witnessed an increase in sales, by 25.8 percent and 21.4 percent over the same period, respectively. Despite these setbacks, Bud Light remains America’s top-selling beer year-to-date through June 17.
Amidst the turmoil, Anheuser-Busch has launched new ad campaigns and continued with its summer marketing initiatives. But as things stand, the brand’s recovery from the Mulvaney controversy remains uncertain.