Brendan Whitworth, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Bud Light, issued a tepid statement seeming to apologize to the beer company’s customers for any upset caused by promotionally partnering with transgender TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney.
“We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people,” Whitworth said in the statement. “We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.
“My time serving this country taught me the importance of accountability and the values upon which America was founded: freedom, hard work and respect for one another. As CEO of Anheuser-Busch, I am focused on building and protecting our remarkable history and heritage.
“I care deeply about this country, this company, our brands and our partners. I spend much of my time traveling across America, listening to and learning from our customers, distributors and others. Moving forward, I will continue to work tirelessly to bring great beers to consumers across our nation.”
The statement didn’t mention Mulvaney by name, nor did it highlight any specific actions that the company took that were “divisive.”
He also didn’t address reports from conservative outlets, including the Daily Wire, that senior executives at Anheuser-Busch were allegedly blindsided by Bud Light’s decision to partner with Mulvaney, a transgender actress who recently posted a series of videos on Tiktok documenting her transition over the past year and even held a brief interview with President Joe Biden.
As part of the partnership, Bud Light sent Mulvaney a custom-designed commemorative can featuring her face to celebrate the one-year anniversary of her coming out and her “Days of Girlhood” series. It was similar to other commemorative cans honoring other celebrities for their accomplishments.
The cans featuring Mulvaney’s face were not made available to the public for purchase.
In exchange, Mulvaney appeared in an Instagram video promoting Bud Light’s “Easy Carry Contest” towards the end of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, known as “March Madness.” She also appeared in a commercial showing her in a bikini taking a bubble bath while drinking Bud Light.
But Mulvaney’s transgender identity, and the company’s decision to partner with any transgender person, sparked a backlash against Bud Light, including calls for a boycott of not only Budweiser products, but any product marketed by Anheuser-Busch.
Country music star Travis Tritt announced he would be pulling all Anheuser-Busch product from his tour’s hospitality rider. Musician and political activist Kid Rock used an AR-15-style rifle to shoot several cases of Bud Light in a video that went viral on Twitter.
Much of the conservative anger over the partnership with Mulvaney appears to be fueled by larger political fights over the inclusion of transgender women in women’s-designated spaces or sports. Conservatives argue that corporate America is attempting to push a “woke” ideology that seeks to normalize gender nonconformity and make the idea that a person can transition from one gender identity to another socially acceptable.
The controversy comes at a time when conservative lawmakers in various state legislatures have pushed through various measures aimed at restricting transgender visibility, trans-inclusive laws or policies, and the ability of trans people to access gender-affirming treatments to help them transition medically.
While it is unclear the extent to which the Mulvaney partnership influenced the markets — Anheuser-Busch’s stock had fallen steadily for years before the campaign — right-wing outlets gleefully reported that the company had anywhere between $4 billion and $6 billion in market share value in the two weeks following Mulvaney’s promotional video for Bud Light.
According to The New York Post, shares of Anheuser-Busch fell by nearly 4%, knocking down the company’s market capitalization from $132.38 billion to $127.13 billion as of last Wednesday.
The brand’s market capitalization share appeared to rebound in the following days, ticking up to $128.09 billion by Monday morning.
Still, the company’s decision to issue a statement appeared to signal concern that the company may have alienated its most loyal customers, who appear to lean more conservative.
Conservatives have derided Whitworth’s “apology” as a “nothing statement” on Fox News, which has played up the Mulvaney controversy for ratings.
Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro criticized the statement for addressing “zero of the problems with hiring a man cosplaying as a woman to sell cheap beer to a predominantly male audience.”
Meanwhile, the Bush administration’s former administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency Michael D. Brown — who became known for his resignation following criticism over FEMA’s flawed response to Hurricane Katrina — criticized the company’s public relations department, tweeting, “Hey @AnheuserBusch what exactly is this? It’s not an apology. It’s not a mea culpa. And no mention of why you felt the need to issue this statement. Your PR/marketing department really does suck.”
Even those on the Left who might be more sympathetic to Mulvaney criticized Whitworth’s statement.
“The company is going to find a statement like this only emboldens the bigots, while simultaneously turning off the people who supported their move to feature Dylan Mulvaney in the first place,” Eric Deggans, a TV critic for National Public Radio tweeted. “Way to make sure you anger everybody over this issue. Sigh.”
The company is going to find a statement like this only emboldens the bigots, while simultaneously turning off the people who supported their move to feature Dylan Mulvaney in the first place. Way to make sure you anger everybody over this issue. Sigh. https://t.co/bopTWlm57C
Trans activist Charlotte Clymer, who is a Metro Weekly contributor, criticized Whitworth as well.
“This statement by Anheuser-Busch ultimately says nothing, and it also says everything. After two weeks of violent rhetoric over a trans woman drinking Bud Light, the CEO is basically saying, without saying it: ‘We understand why you’re upset we validated trans people.'”
Over the weekend, Anheuser-Busch released a new ad for Budweiser that appeared to pander to conservative consumers.
In the ad, the brand’s iconic Clydesdale horse passes by famous American landmarks, including the New York City skyline, the St. Louis Arch, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., small towns, and farmland.
he commercial shows two people embracing in greeting, two others sharing a beer, and a man and woman raising an American flag while the woman places her hand over her heart.
“This is a story bigger than beer,” the ad’s narrator says. “This is the story of the American spirit.”
But even an attempt at appealing to patriotism and conservative values appears to have fallen flat with conservatives, who continued to criticize Anheuser-Busch for its lack of a formal apology.
“Hey @AnheuserBusch, if you’re at a point where you’re literally referencing 9/11 in hopes that it would make us flyover yokels run to the store to salute a 12-pack of Bud Light, you should just apologize instead. Hoping we’re stupid enough to buy this ad is insulting,” Brandon Morse, senior editor of the online political blog Red State, tweeted.
Hey @AnheuserBusch, if you're at a point where you're literally referencing 9/11 in hopes that it would make us flyover yokels run to the store to salute a 12-pack of Bud Light, you should just apologize instead. Hoping we're stupid enough to buy this ad is insulting. https://t.co/p1HpTqqdXe
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton slammed the company’s corporate owners for “trying to pretend their support of transgender extremists who targets children never happened,” echoing an oft-repeated trope that transgender people are seeking to indoctrinate children into transitioning.
On his own podcast last Thursday, Donald Trump Jr. called for an end to the conservative boycott of Anheuser-Busch, saying he doesn’t support “destroying an American, an iconic, company for something like this,” and noting that the company’s political donations skew heavily in favor of Republicans, according to Business Insider.
“The company itself doesn’t participate in the same leftist nonsense as the other big conglomerates,” Trump Jr. said. “Frankly, they don’t participate in the same woke garbage that other people in the beer industry actually do, who are significantly worse offenders when I looked into it. But if they do this again, then it’s on them! Then, screw them.”
Rapper Yung Joc said he would turn down $250,000 if it meant having to perform in front of an LGBTQ audience, citing his discomfort with gay people and gender nonconformity.
Speaking with celebrity and urban news site VladTV, the former Love & Hop-Hop star was asked about rapper Boosie Badazz's claim that he had turned down a quarter of a million dollars to perform at an LGBTQ event.
He then defended Boosie's decision, arguing that it may show that the rapper isn't willing to compromise his personal views or beliefs in exchange for monetary compensation.
The first Gay Games to ever be held in Asia kicked off last week in Hong Kong -- but not without drawing the condemnation of conservative government elites accusing the event of promoting "Western ideology."
Started in 1982, the quadrennial event sees gay and straight athletes from around the world competing in various sporting events.
Initially, Hong Kong was selected in 2017 as the site of the 2022 Gay Games, but the event was postponed for a year due to China's strict COVID-19 controls, which were kept in place for longer than restrictions in most other countries.
A 4-H club in Odebolt, Iowa, removed a children's drawing of a rainbow from a window after receiving complaints about the rainbow's meaning to the LGBTQ community.
Rachel Burns, the mother of 4-H club participants Frannie Burns, 10, and Elwood Burns, 12, says that her children were invited to paint the windows of a local business to promote the club and celebrate National 4-H Week.
The project was intended to encourage people to join the organization, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state and local governments.
But beyond being required to include the club's name and have a message encouraging people to join, Burns says her children were given complete artistic freedom.
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