Following in the footsteps of Hershey chocolate, Coke, M&M’s, and others, Bud Light is the latest major food or drink product to get caught in the conservatives’ culture war.
Prominent right-wing figures, including politicians and celebrities, are boycotting the beer line. Their reasoning? A partnership between the beer and 26-year-old trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
The boycotting effort has become a messy spectacle, with Anheuser-Busch — Bud Light’s parent company — holding firm on the collab even as Kid Rock shoots 12-packs with a submachine gun and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R., Ga.) films herself buying Coors in protest (a brand that has run Pride campaigns of its own).
Here’s what you need to know.
Who is Dylan Mulvaney?
Mulvaney is a TikTok influencer and actress, who grew a presence on social media for documenting her male-to-female transition. Her video diary series, Days of Girlhood, candidly discusses her experience being transgender for millions of followers.
As noted by the online LGBTQ magazine Them, Mulvaney cultivated endorsements and sponsorships as her stardom rose, including with brands such as Kate Spade, Ulta, and Instacart. Still, her popularity has also been met with transphobic hatred.
In October, Mulvaney and President Joe Biden discussed trans rights for a NowThis video. Congressional Republicans including Greene and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) lashed out against Mulvaney at the time, calling her a “fake woman.”
Still, support for Mulvaney has also grown. The starlet has nearly 2 million followers on Instagram and recently announced a partnership with Nike (a company that’s no stranger to right-wing boycotts).
Can you tell me about Mulvaney’s partnership with Bud Light?
Last week, Mulvaney posted a video of herself dressed like Holly Golightly, the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s character popularized by Audrey Hepburn.
In the video, which is part of a sponsored partnership with Bud Light, Mulvaney promoted the company’s “Easy Carry Contest,” which offers customers the chance at winning $15,000 if they post a video of themselves holding as many cans of Bud Light as possible.
Mulvaney also shows viewers a custom Bud Light can with her face on it, to help celebrate a year since transitioning, which she called her first year of “girlhood.” The can with Mulvaney’s face is not for sale, but the company announced an upcoming line of Pride-themed cans featuring different pronouns.
What was the response to the Bud Light partnership?
Quickly, the video was met with both positive and negative feedback.
Critics said the beer brand should “know its audience” and demanded Bud Light cut ties with Mulvaney and stop “going woke.” Some posted videos of them dumping out cases of the beer.
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Transgender visibility and rights remain a polarizing topic. A Pew Research Center survey last year found that 36% of Americans said society hadn’t gone far enough to accept people who are trans, while 38% said society had gone too far.
Right-wing media figures, including Fox News hosts, called for a boycott of Bud Light as well as other Anheuser-Busch-produced beers. Anheuser-Busch owns brands including Stella Artois, Budweiser, Busch, and Republican favorite, Michelob Ultra.
U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas) filmed a video of his Bud Light-less fridge but goofed by accidentally stocking up on other Anheuser-Busch beers instead.
Conservative commentators John Cardillo and Ben Shapiro amplified transphobic criticism of Mulvaney on their popular Twitter accounts. Cardillo also misgendered and tweeted transphobic remarks about Mulvaney.
But Bud Light supporting the LGBTQ community isn’t new. The brand has touted its Pride campaigns for more than 20 years, including a rainbow aluminum bottle last year for Pride month. Other major beer brands have also expressed support. A Newsweek analysis said at least half of the 10 most popular beer companies have LGBTQ partnerships.
How is the boycott going?
It depends on whom you ask.
With celebrities such as Kid Rock and country singer Travis Tritt joining in on the anti-Bud Light movement, more people are finding out about a once-niche ad campaign. According to Cookoutnews.com, millions of people were using the #BoycottBudLight hashtag on Twitter and TikTok.
In turn, there has also been a lot of misinformation swirling across the internet involving the original campaign.
A debunked rumor began spreading that Anheuser-Busch laid off its entire marketing team because of the right-wing backlash. The Associated Press confirmed that wasn’t the case.
What have Bud Light and Mulvaney said since the boycott?
In statements to news outlets, Bud Light has expressed support for Mulvaney.
“Anheuser-Busch works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics and passion points,” the company said in a statement to Fox News.
Still, supporters of the influencer say that’s not enough. The brand, which typically posts near-daily, has not posted on its social media accounts since announcing the partnership.
In an Instagram story, Mulvaney referenced facing harassment.
“There’s been a lot going on and I was feeling a little down,” she said, thanking fans for their support.