In March, Anheuser-Busch teamed up with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney to promote its March Madness contest. Mulvaney, who boasts 1.7 million Instagram followers, announced the partnership in a video clip showing the influencer revealing a special can the company made featuring her face.
“This month, I celebrated my day 365 of womanhood, and Bud Light sent me possibly the best gift ever: a can with my face on it,” she shared. A clip shared on her Instagram story showed Mulvaney in a bathtub, sipping Bud Light while waiting on hold with customer service, reminiscent of the brand’s 2023 Super Bowl ad.
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Backlash ensued as celebrities such as Travis Tritt, John Rich and Kid Rock criticized the company for their partnership decision. Tritt and Rich announced boycotts of Bud Light and triggered a massive boycott that resulted in a steep decline of sales.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Bud Light in-store sales dropped 26% in the week ending April 22. And the company’s market value plummeted $5 billion in recent weeks.
The company reportedly plans to increase their Bud Light marketing budget with new ad campaigns and will send each wholesale distributor employee a free case of Bud Light, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Anheuser-Busch also sent wholesalers a letter clarifying misconceptions about their partnership with Mulvaney.
“This can is not a formal campaign or advertisement,” the letter reportedly said. “Our new Vice President of Bud Light and all of us at Anheuser-Busch are committed to reminding all of our consumers why they love Bud Light and why they’ve made it the #1 beer in America.”
It was also clarified that cans with Mulvaney’s image on them were only sent to Mulvaney and were never available for sale to the general public.