Are we wrong about Bud Light’s Dylan Mulvaney Scandal?

Michael Beausoleil
6 min readJul 11, 2023

Wassup with Budweiser?

The beer brand has found itself at the center of controversy, and it stems from an advertising campaign featuring trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney. In March, the social media star celebrated the first anniversary of coming out as trans and “day 365 of girlhood.”

So, Budweiser sent her Bud Light to celebrate and the brand gave her a custom can with her face on it. To be clear, this can was not publicly available — it was a one-off. This wasn’t some major publicity campaign, though there was a $15,000 social media contest attached to the post.

The Bud Light can with Mulvaney on it, with the trans flag in the background

Then — perhaps predictably — conservative media figures like Ben Shapiro, Kid Rock, and Travis Tritt have sworn off Budweiser after seeing them working with an openly trans influencer.

But this isn’t the issue; it’s the sales. During its lowest week in June 2023, Bud Light’s sales were down 28.5% compared to the same week in 2022. This type of decline made Bud Light lose its title of America’s best-selling beer, and the problems keep rolling in.

What’s the real issue here?

The fact that Budweiser (and its parent company Anheuser-Busch) would support a trans social media star should not be a surprise to anyone. The brand has incorporated LGBTQ+ themes into its ads since the 90s, and it’s supported the community throughout social progress. In 2019, Bud Light even introduced a Pride bottle that was publicly available, though it mimicked the traditional, 6-color Pride flag.

Ian Harvey in the “Bud Light Party” holding a bottle of beer.
Ian Harvey in Bud Light Party via Bud Light

In fact, trans comedian Ian Harvie appeared in Bud Light’s 2016 “Bud Light Party” commercial. In the ad, Seth Rogan states “Beer should have labels, not people,” after Amy Schumer states “gender identity, it’s really a spectrum.” And, this ad was political satire before the 2016 election — yet it didn’t receive a fraction of the backlash that Mulvaney received.

Since this ad aired, issues surrounding gender identity and health care for trans people have become heavily politicized. Bud Light continued to support LGBTQ+ events like Pride (it…

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Michael Beausoleil

User Analytics | Digital & Brand Marketing | Productivity … hoping to explore topics that interest me and find others with similar passions