Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth has released a statement amid backlash against Bud Light's collaboration with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney but failed to mention Mulvaney or the specific controversy.
After nearly two weeks of facing criticism, boycotts, and significant market value losses for his company, Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth has issued a statement regarding Bud Light's controversial partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
However, the statement does not mention Mulvaney, transgenderism, or offer an apology to offended customers.
The controversy began at the start of the month when Mulvaney, who identifies as trans, announced on Instagram, "Bud Light sent me possibly the best gift ever: a can with my face on it."
The video also included the hashtag #budlightpartner. In the days and weeks that followed, critics blasted Bud Light for its tone-deaf marketing, and beer drinkers chose other brands over Bud Light.
"We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people," Whitworth said in a statement on Friday. "We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer." Whitworth emphasized that he is responsible "for ensuring every consumer feels proud of the beer we brew" and that the company proudly supports "our communities, military, first responders, sports fans, and hard-working Americans everywhere."
Whitworth added that he spends a lot of time "listening to and learning from our customers, distributors, and others." However, the statement did not directly address the controversy that led to a 13-day public relations crisis for the company – their decision to collaborate with a transgender influencer.
Daily Wire said that "the CEO's statement came nearly two weeks after Mulvaney posted an April 1 video showcasing Bud Light cans with his face on them." There was initial confusion about whether the April Fool's Day announcement was genuine, as Bud Light's official social media pages and press page made no mention of a partnership with Mulvaney.
However, Bud Light confirmed and defended its partnership with Mulvaney on April 3, explaining that the custom beer cans were a "gift" to celebrate Mulvaney's personal milestone.
Sources familiar with the matter later claimed that "no one at the senior level" of the company was aware of Bud Light's polarizing partnership with Mulvaney.
The company's vice president of marketing recently praised her mandate to make the brand more "inclusive." This came after the company issued a statement confirming the partnership and describing it as an attempt to "authentically connect with audiences across various demographics and passion points."
The marketing stunt appears to have cost the company $5 billion in market value this week, and the backlash against the iconic American beer brand has been intense.
A Budweiser distributor in Missouri even canceled an event with the company's famous Clydesdale horses, citing the situation as "still sensitive."