When Bud Light opted to delve into politics by introducing transgender Dylan Mulvaney as their new, woke, and hip spokesperson, the backlash was swift, intense, and unsurprising given the demographic of Bud Light customers.
In spring 2023, TikTok influencer Dylan Mulvany single-handedly brought down the brewing empire, Anheuser-Busch. Mulvany, aged 26, had a TikTok following of nearly 11 million and was best known for chronicling their first year of transitioning from male to female in a video series called “Days of Girlhood.”
Nothing about Mulvany screams “drink beer,” but that didn’t stop Anheuser-Busch from deciding to feature them as a spokesperson. An advertising genius put Mulvany’s face on a can and sent it to the TikTok legend, and Mulvany posted an Instagram holding the can.
Some rules in life are understood without needing to be explicitly stated, like don’t pet a rabid dog, don’t ask a woman her age, and maybe think twice before partnering with transgender individuals when research indicates that the majority of your beer’s consumers are conservative males.
The fallout led to massive boycotts nationwide, with consumers taking to social media to post videos of themselves pouring the product down the drain or shooting the cans. Within weeks, the campaign was shelved. Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth walked back its message, insisting that the brewing company “never intended to be a part of a discussion that divides people.” Bud Light pledged it would never go political again.
Immediately following this announcement, Anheuser-Busch began sponsoring UFC, a mixed martial arts team run by a former President Donald Trump supporter. One of the athletes on the team went on a transphobic rant against a gay reporter when the subject of LGBTQ+ rights came up, as it inevitably does during a pay-per-view middleweight MMA battle, Superbowl, or Monster Truck rally.
After the viral rant, Anheuser-Busch remained strangely quiet about its sponsorship choice. It would seem that Bud Light should have finally learned its lesson about dabbling in politics.
But the advertising geniuses at the brewery weren’t done yet.
Shane Gillis is a comedian known for his stand-up performances and podcast appearances. He gained significant attention when he was announced as one of the new cast members for the 45th season comedy sketch show “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) in September 2019. However, shortly after the announcement, videos surfaced in which Gillis made controversial and offensive remarks, including racial slurs and derogatory language targeting various groups. In a now-deleted YouTube video, Gillis and his co-host, Matt McCusker, shared a series of racist jokes against Chinese Americans, which involved mocking accents and cultural stereotypes.
Soon after, audio footage was uncovered that highlighted Gillis making racist comments regarding Andrew Yang, a Democratic presidential candidate.
As a result, he was fired from SNL before he even appeared on the show. He issued a standard “sorry, not sorry” apology, characterizing himself as “a comedian who pushes boundaries” and expressing his willingness to apologize to anyone genuinely offended by his remarks. However, Gillis retracted the statement, claiming regret over its “pretentiousness.”
Since then, Gillis has performed stand-up comedy and participated in other projects. He frequently jokes about transgender and gay individuals in his comedic bits, along with racist commentary.
Here are 20 minutes of Gillis and his stand-up routines so you can get to know him..and understand that NOTHING is off-limits for him:
But Gillis drinks Bud Light, which was enough to convince Anheuser-Busch to partner with Gillis, who is outspokenly conservative. Gillis and Bud Light took to Instagram to announce their partnership, accompanied by photos of Gillis during a visit to an Anheuser-Busch brewery. “Thrilled to announce my partnership with Bud Light #budlightpartner,” the comedian captioned.
Bud Light isn’t alone in making poor spokesperson choices.
In 2009, Tiger Woods faced public scrutiny after reports of his infidelity surfaced. At the time, Woods held endorsement deals with several major companies, and as the scandal unfolded, investors collectively lost $12 billion. In another example, celebrity chef Paula Deen came under fire after she was found to have used racial slurs. In response, brands such as Walmart and Home Depot quickly severed their relationships with her.
Anheuser-Busch remains in the political crossfire as its advertising pendulum swings too far to the right this time. It’s a blatant overcompensation that will leave its leftist critics stone-cold sober.