Bud Light Faces Backlash for Partnering with Transgender TikTok Star: Lessons on Inclusivity and Brand Partnerships

Bud Light recently faced backlash for partnering with transgender actor and TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney, who had been appointed as a brand ambassador.[0] Mulvaney had celebrated the 365th day of her “Days of Girlhood” series, and Bud Light had gifted her a personalized beer can to mark the occasion.[0] However, many people criticized the company for its decision to work with Mulvaney. Country singer Travis Tritt announced on Twitter that he would be removing all Anheuser-Busch products from his tour rider, and other users uploaded videos of themselves throwing Bud Light into the garbage.[1]

Brendan Whitworth, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Bud Light, released a statement in response to the controversy, stating that the company never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people.[2] He emphasized that the company’s goal is to bring people together over a beer, and he is focused on building and protecting the company’s remarkable history and heritage.[3]

Mulvaney had also partnered with Nike to endorse the company’s sports bras, which had also received backlash.[4] Caitlyn Jenner, another transgender woman, called the brand partnership an “outrage.”[5] Bud Light has previously supported the LGBTQ+ community in its advertising, partnering with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and selling Bud Light in rainbow cans for Pride.[6]

In an interview, the former Bud Light brand director, Andy Heinerscheid, explained that the brand had been in decline for a long time, and her goal was to attract young drinkers to come and drink the brand by focusing on inclusivity. However, the controversy surrounding the Mulvaney partnership has highlighted the challenges that brands face when trying to connect with different demographics while avoiding backlash.

Overall, the controversy surrounding Bud Light’s partnership with Mulvaney emphasizes the importance of being mindful of the potential impact of brand partnerships on different communities. Brands need to be aware of the potential consequences of their actions and ensure that they are not inadvertently causing harm or offense to any group.[7] While it is important to connect with diverse audiences, it is equally important to do so in a way that is respectful and inclusive.

0. “Anheuser-Busch Rep Bragged About Using Company To Push DEI” The Federalist, 11 Apr. 2023, https://thefederalist.com/2023/04/11/top-anheuser-busch-official-previously-bragged-about-using-companys-brands-to-push-dei-onto-consumers/

1. “Is Kid Rock, Travis Tritt’s Bud Boycott All Froth?” Billboard, 13 Apr. 2023, https://www.billboard.com/music/music-news/kid-rock-budweiser-boycott-trans-influencer-impact-1235301054/

2. “Anheuser-Busch breaks silence after Bud Light’s Dylan Mulvaney controversy” Fox Business, 14 Apr. 2023, https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/anheuser-busch-breaks-silence-bud-lights-dylan-mulvaney-controversy

3. “Anheuser-Busch CEO on the Bud Light backlash: ‘We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people’” MarketWatch, 15 Apr. 2023, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/anheuser-busch-ceo-on-the-bud-light-backlash-we-never-intended-to-be-part-of-a-discussion-that-divides-people-9a68a6fc

4. “Outrage over trans actress Dylan Mulvaney’s Bud Light ad backfires” MSNBC, 11 Apr. 2023, https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opinion/bud-light-ad-trans-dylan-mulvaney-rcna79165

5. “Anheuser-Busch CEO responds to uproar over Dylan Mulvaney sponsorship” The Hill, 14 Apr. 2023, https://thehill.com/blogs/in-the-know/in-the-know/3951299-anheuser-busch-ceo-responds-to-uproar-over-dylan-mulvaney-sponsorship/

6. “Bud Light uproar exposes need for marketers to manage marketer influencer controversies” Digiday, 14 Apr. 2023, https://digiday.com/marketing/marketers-should-prepare-to-manage-controversy-with-influencer-marketing-efforts/

7. “Anheuser-Busch CEO releases statement amid Dylan Mulvaney backlash” The Cincinnati Enquirer, 14 Apr. 2023, https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2023/04/14/anheuser-busch-ceo-brendan-whitworth-releases-statement-amid-dylan-mulvaney-bud-light-backlash/70116412007