On Saturday, April 1, the beer maker sparked ire among conservatives after naming transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney as their latest spokeswoman, promoting their March Madness Easy Carry Contest.
“This month I celebrated my 365 days of womanhood and Bud Light sent me possibly the best gift ever — a can with my face on it,” said Mulvaney in the advertisement, referencing her viral “Days of Girlhood” series, which publicly documented her first year openly living as a trans woman.
Despite the brand’s wholesome ad, which somehow managed to combine March Madness and Breakfast At Tiffany’s, right-wingers were naturally peeved, avowing to boycott the brand, dumping out their beer and in the case of Kid Rock, lighting up several cans with a rifle.
But even after sparking the ire of a man who famously fumbled the bag with Pamela Anderson, the company stood by their advertisement, issuing a statement defending their decision to partner with 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,” a representative for the brand told Fox News of their campaign, noting that the advertisement was specifically honoring Mulvaney’s first "365 Days of Girlhood.”
ITS DAY 365!!!!!!!!!!? World's Smallest Violin - AJR
“From time to time, we produce unique commemorative cans for fans and for brand influencers, like Dylan Mulvaney,” they elaborated. “This commemorative can was a gift to celebrate a personal milestone and is not for sale to the general public.”
The backlash to Mulvaney’s advertisement is far from Bud Light’s first rodeo when it comes to grappling with angry homophobes.
Bud Light, and its parent company Anheuser Busch, have long served as supporters of the LGBTQ+ community, a sentiment Zeke Stokes of GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) explained back in 2019.
"Bud Light stood with the community at a time when many brands did not, and their continued outspoken support sets the bar for other global brands,” Stokes stated in a press release commemorating the media organization's 20-year anniversary of working with the beer maker.
Anheuser Busch first sparked major backlash for their dedication to their LGBTQ+ consumers in the late ‘90s after launching their now-famed ‘Be Yourself and Make It a Bud Light’ campaign.
Largely featuring couples smiling and dancing, the occasional splash of rainbow branding, and of course, the “Be Yourself” slogan exclusively appeared in LGBTQ+ publications, yet still managed to spark a divisive reaction from advocates on both sides of the aisle.
Garnering so much overwhelming support from the LGBTQ+ community that Anheuser-Busch launched a specific supporter hotline after the ad’s first appearance in a St. Louis magazine, many conservatives – namely, televangelist Jerry Falwell – were less-than-thrilled about the initiative.
“Let’s keep the heat on Anheuser-Busch so that they understand that pro-family Americans are terribly concerned about homosexual images coming into our homes through reckless advertising campaigns,” he wrote in an email to his supporters shortly after the ad’s initial appearance.
Just like the backlash to Mulvaney’s ad nearly two and a half decades later, the company was evidently unphased by Falwell’s scathing email, opting to ignore the opinions of a man who once condemned Teletubbies, convinced that Tinky Winky was secretly a gay icon.
“It’s surprising to us that one print ad placed in select gay-oriented magazines has attracted attention,″ Anheuser Busch elaborated in a statement at the time, noting that
“today’s consumer is not one of a specific gender, race, geography or orientation.”
“We appreciate and respect the views of all our customers,” they concluded. The brand ultimately expanded the campaign to other LGBTQ+ publications.
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