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How America went into meltdown over Bud Light’s disastrous tie up with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney

How America went into meltdown over Bud Light’s disastrous tie up with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney: Epic PR flop has cost firm billions, sparked boycotts and bomb threats and even seen stars shooting cases of the beer with millions ditching the brand

Mass boycotts across America, billions of dollars down the drain and bomb threats aren’t what the marketing executives of Bud Light had in mind when they brought in transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney for a new partnership.

But that’s exactly what happened.

For decades, Bud Light has been a staple in homes across the United States as the country’s top-selling beer but those days are fast disappearing with millions ditching the brand.It all kicked off with Mulvaney, 26, sharing a video to her 10.8 million Instagram followers of herself cracking open a can of Bud Light on April 1, along with the hashtag #budlightpartner. Mulvaney was even given a beer can with her face on it to celebrate the influencer’s first year as an openly transgender woman.

Marketing executives including Alissa Heinerscheid had hoped the partnership with the transgender influencer would freshen up Bud Light’s image – but instead, it very nearly destroyed it, with celebrities and customers slamming the company for going ‘woke’.

The company’s decision to partner with Mulvaney has become a symbol of how divisive transgender issues are in the US – and there are no signs that the anger or boycotts will stop any time soon almost six weeks on. Indeed, the global CEO of parent company Anheuser-Busch this week continued to deflect blame for the saga and instead blamed ‘social media’ for triggering the boycott which has seen Bud Light sales fall 21.4 per cent in April. Within days of Mulvaney’s social media posts, American singer Kid Rock, 52, decided to stack cases of Bud Light beer on a table and use them as shooting practice in a video that went viral.

Rock’s commentary of ‘f*** Bud Light’ while the cans sprayed into the air was the opposite of what the marketing team had in mind when they decided to partner with Mulvaney.

Other celebrities joined Kid Rock in slamming the partnership, with country singers John Rich and Travis Tritt publicly denouncing the brand. Beer lovers in Tritt’s hometown Marietta, Georgia, quickly followed suit and started drinking Coors Light instead of Bud Light following the controversy.

And the nightmare for the Bud Light executives didn’t end there.

Millions of customers ditched the American brand within days of Mulvaney’s social media posts, with scores filming themselves pouring the beer down the sink and throwing the cans into bins.

And as the polarisation spilled into bars across America, with patrons trading insults and recriminations over each other’s beer choices, some bar owners said they would stop selling Bud Light simply to prevent fights.

Scores have said Bud Light’s partnership with Mulvaney went too far at a time when transgender issues – including gender-affirming health care and participation in sports – are a divisive social issue.

Indeed, a poll of some 1,000 adults found that most Americans support the boycott, with many saying the brewing giant ‘stepped into a hornets’ nest’ by getting the controversial TikToker to promote their beer.

The PR disaster has seen Anheuser-Busch lose more than $6billion in market capitalisation and its sales of Bud Light have dropped by 26 per cent amid the backlash.It meant Bud Light declined to the fourth spot of the most popular draft beer in America following the controversy – losing out to Coors Light.

And to make matters worse for all those who work at the company, the Budweiser factory in Los Angeles was targeted by a series of bomb threats in the wake of the Mulvaney controversy. Other facilities owned by Bud Light’s parent company Anheuser-Busch across the country were also targeted.

Despite the decision by millions of once loyal Bud Light customers to ditch the brand, plummeting sales and bomb threats, the company – aside from an initial terse statement – remained tight-lipped about the situation. The brand’s social media accounts fell silent as conservatives howled over the Mulvaney partnership.

Advertising and brands expert Ben Schott called the Bud Light saga ‘a marketing case study for the ages’ in ‘how not to handle brand collaborations in a dangerously polarised space.’

‘But Bud Light’s action is worse than a gaffe, it’s a betrayal,’ wrote Schott, noting that the brand retreated into ‘cowardly’ silence, leaving Mulvaney high and dry, as the controversy exploded online and in bars across the country.

‘Bud Light actively and eagerly sought out a controversial influencer in a dangerously polarized space, with neither the wisdom to plan for a backlash nor the bravery to stand by its partner,’ he wrote.

And it took 14 days for Anheuser-Busch US CEO Brendan Whitworth to address the polarisation in America over the controversial partnership.

‘We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people,’ Doukeris wrote on April 14. ‘We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.’

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