Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has said it “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people” after a Bud Light partnership with trans woman Dylan Mulvaney sparked widespread controversy.
It follows a video posted on Mulvaney’s Instagram page showcasing special-edition Bud Light beers featuring her face, which she said the company sent to mark her one-year anniversary since transitioning.
The sponsored post on 1 April was part of a promotion for the AB InBev brand’s March Madness competition.
But the partnership was followed by calls to boycott the brand and backlash from US conservatives. US singer Kid Rock posted a video of himself shooting at Bud Light cans while Donald Trump’s former presidential campaign manager Seth Weathers launched a “woke-free beer” called Ultra Right.
Several Budweiser factories also reportedly received bomb threats.
Brendan Whitworth, the CEO of AB InBev’s Anheuser-Busch subsidiary, posted a statement on the company’s Twitter page on Friday (14 April) titled Our Responsibility To America, in which he said AB InBev was “honoured to be part of the fabric of this country”.
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While the statement did not directly address the advert, Whitworth said: “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”
The debacle allegedly cost AB InBev around $4bn as its share price dipped, though these figures have not been substantiated. The company’s shares were at a 20-month high at the end of March and at the time of writing had risen by 5.95% overall in the last one-month period.
Speaking on Onward podcast this month, hosted by entertainer Rosie O’Donnell, Mulvaney said she was an “easy target” because of her age.
“I think it comes back to the fact that these people don’t understand me, and anything that I do or say somehow gets taken out of context and is used against me,” she said.
The TikTok star is known for the viral series 365 Days Of Girlhood, which documents her transition journey.