It hasn’t been a good month for Bud Light. On April 1, Dylan Mulvaney posted a video announcing Bud Light sent custom beer cans emblazoned with the TikTok star’s face to commemorate “day 365 of womanhood” — the one-year anniversary of Mulvaney coming out as transgender.
Bud Light touts itself as “Easy to Drink, Easy to Enjoy,” but many Americans found the Mulvaney partnership hard to swallow.
Musician Kid Rock recorded a video blasting a case of Bud Light with a gun. Author Matt Walsh spearheaded a boycott of the brand. And U.S. Senator Ted Cruz told Newsweek he was “hard-pressed to think of an instance where a company understood less about the consumers who actually purchase their product.”
On Monday, April 10, Bud Light parent company Anheuser-Busch saw a three percent drop in its stock.
Bud Light’s initial response to the controversy? Dead silence. The Twitter account of the beer brand — known for posting multiple times daily — went dark for two weeks. When Budweiser did finally speak up, it was via an effusively patriotic ad in which a narrator proclaims, “This is a story bigger than beer. This is the story of the American spirit.”
In that much, Budweiser is right — albeit unintentionally. The lessons from Bud Light’s marketing mishap are far greater than the sum of its parts. The visceral response from everyday Americans wasn’t about hate for Dylan Mulvaney, transphobia, or even Bud Light — it was yet another instance of a major corporation needlessly injecting itself into a culture war, and it was a breaking point for many Americans tired of seeing everything politicized at every turn.
This time, the people pushed back.