Why did Bud Light partner with Dylan Mulvaney? Marketing fiasco explored amid ongoing backlash

Bud Light and Dylan Mulvaney. (Photo via Erika Goldring/Getty, Dia Dipasupil/Getty)
Bud Light and Dylan Mulvaney. (Photo via Erika Goldring/Getty, Dia Dipasupil/Getty)

Alcohol brand Bud Light has been under fire ever since it partnered with trans activist Dylan Mulvaney. The controversy began on April 2, when the 26-year-old personality took to their Instagram handle to share a video of customized beer cans by Bud Light that the brand sent to them to celebrate their 365 days of womanhood.

Several conservatives and right-wing supporters immediately started calling out the brand for choosing Mulvaney as its spokesperson, with singer Kid Rock sharing a video of himself shooting beer cans placed on a table far away.

On April 13, conservative news website The Daily Wire published a report revealing that several top executives from the beer brand's parent company, Anheuser-Busch, were unaware of the Dylan Mulvaney partnership until there was an uproar.

"No one at a senior level was aware this was happening."

As per the report, marketing officials at Bud's parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, have supposedly "paused" subsequent efforts to develop a more "robust" screening procedure for future initiatives. They added that some "low-level marketing staffers" who watch over influencers thought it wasn't a big deal.

"Obviously it was, and it’s a shame because they have a well-earned reputation for just being America’s beer — not a political company. It was a mistake."

Bud Light's Vice President of marketing wanted to transform its image

On March 23, 2023, the vice president of marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid, spoke on the Make Yourself at Home podcast, where she revealed she wanted to alter Bud Light's brand image.

“I’m a businesswoman, I had a really clear job to do when I took over Bud Light, and it was ‘This brand is in decline, it’s been in a decline for a really long time, and if we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand, there will be no future for Bud Light.’”

Heinerscheid said that to push the brand towards newer consumers, she thought of "inclusivity."

"So I had this super clear mandate. It's like, we need to evolve and elevate this incredibly iconic brand. And my...what I brought to that was a belief in, okay, what does evolve and elevate mean? It means inclusivity. It means shifting the tone. It means having a campaign that's truly inclusive and feels lighter and brighter and different and appeals to women and to men."

She also criticized Bud Light's previous branding, stating it had been "kind of a brand of fratty, kind of out-of-touch humor," which is why it needed another approach.

Anheuser-Busch has remained quiet about Alissa Heinerscheid and their collaboration with Dylan Mulvaney, with many boycotting its products. A spokesperson for the company issued a statement to Fox News and said:

“From time to time, we produce unique commemorative cans for fans and for brand influencers like Dylan Mulvaney. This commemorative can was a gift to celebrate a personal milestone and is not for sale to the general public.”

Days after the drama unraveled, Dylan Mulvaney also weighed in on the issue and accused critics of bullying them on the issue because they are transgender. Speaking on the Onward with Rosie O’Donnell podcast, the 26-year-old actress said:

“The reason that I think I am so … I’m an easy target is because I’m so new to this. I think going after a trans woman that’s been doing this for like 20 years is a lot more difficult. I think maybe they think that there’s some sort of chance with me … But what is their goal?”

As of this article's writing, Bud Light has not issued any official statement addressing the recent backlash on choosing Dylan Mulvaney as its spokesperson.

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Edited by Shreya Das