Anheuser-Busch CEO offers flat apology following Bud Light’s Dylan Mulvaney backlash
Anheuser-Busch’s top executive on Friday offered an apology flatter than a day-old Bud Light as the beer giant reels from the backlash over its sponsorship deal with controversial transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
“We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people,” Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Brendan Whitworth said in press release titled “Our Responsibility To America.”
“We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”
Whitworth finally broke his silence over the brewing controversy but made no mention of the sponsorship deal with Mulvaney — which has led to calls for a boycott of the nation’s largest beer company.
He also didn’t address reports that senior executives were kept in the dark about the Mulvaney rollout.
Instead, Whitworth said he was “focused on building and protecting our remarkable history and heritage.”
“Moving forward, I will continue to work tirelessly to bring great beers to consumers across our nation,” said Whitworth, a Harvard Business School graduate who served in the Marines and was a CIA officer.
The $132 billion beer company has seen its market value plummet by some $5 billion since the campaign was launched April 1.
Busch distributors around the country have been feeling the fallout, with many bars in conservative states from Tennessee to Wyoming refusing to stock Bud Light.
“I simply don’t understand why they hired the person who was doing the marketing. I mean, if your target customer is Kid Rock, and then all of a sudden you decide to go to RuPaul, that just doesn’t make any sense at all,” Oxygen Financial CEO Ted Jenkin told Fox News Digital.
Budweiser factories have also reportedly been targeted by a wave of bomb threats this week.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that officers responded to a call from the Anheuser-Busch facility in the Van Nuys section.
A spokesperson for the St. Louis-based beermaker told Patch that several other facilities across the country also received bomb threats.
The Post has sought comment from Anheuser-Busch.
One marketing expert told The Post Whitworth’s mea culpa will do little to quell the controversy.
“Whilst it was great that the CEO spoke out formally and formally apologized, it still will leave a sour taste in the Bud Light consumers’ mouth of, why did you do this?” said Jay Jaye, founder of Ace of Spades branding agency.
“Apologizing only works when it clears up the reason why? This is still unknown and it paints the bigger picture – what is the true reason behind this,” he added.
The company had previously defended its decision to hire Mulvaney, an actress and influencer with more than 10 million followers on TikTok, where she documented her gender transition.
“Anheuser-Busch works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics,” a spokesperson had told Fox News.
Alissa Heinerscheid, the vice president of marketing, highlighted the campaign during the “Make Yourself at Home” podcast last week, where the exec said she wanted to transform Bud Light’s brand.
“I’m a businesswoman, I had a really clear job to do when I took over Bud Light, and it was ‘This brand is in decline, it’s been in a decline for a really long time, and if we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand, there will be no future for Bud Light,’” Heinerscheid said.
She also condemned the company’s previous branding, saying: “We had this hangover, I mean Bud Light had been kind of a brand of fratty, kind of out-of-touch humor, and it was really important that we had another approach.”
Conservatives have slammed the ad campaign, claiming the beer maker was pushing “gender propaganda.”
Country music singer John Rich said he pulled cases of Bud Light from his Nashville bar, Travis Tritt called for a boycott and rocker Kid Rock used several Bud Light cases for target practice in a viral video.
Others, like shock jock Howard Stern and podcaster Joe Rogan, have decried the conservative outrage over Mulvaney. Rogan popped open a can of Bud Light on a recent show and panned the boycott effort as ‘goofy.’
Reaction on social media to Whitworth’s statement was scathing.
“I get the idea of bringing all kinds of people together. That’s awesome. However, it shows a lack of understanding for biological women. When you put a biological man in place of a woman, that is a slap to real women, and division,” wrote on Twitter user.
Another wrote: “NOPE. Not good enough. Boycott continues until full apology, fire VP Mrkt, and Mulvaney dropped. Either that or Anheuser-Busch becomes the next Schlitz.”
Additional reporting by Lydia Moynihan
FULL TEXT OF WHITWORTH APOLOGY
As the CEO of a company founded in America’s heartland more than 165 years ago, I am responsible for ensuring every consumer feels proud of the beer we brew.
We’re honored to be part of the fabric of this country. Anheuser-Busch employs more than 18,000 people and our independent distributors employ an additional 47,000 valued colleagues. We have thousands of partners, millions of fans and a proud history supporting our communities, military, first responders, sports fans and hard-working Americans everywhere.
We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.
My time serving this country taught me the importance of accountability and the values upon which America was founded: freedom, hard work and respect for one another. As CEO of Anheuser-Busch, I am focused on building and protecting our remarkable history and heritage.
I care deeply about this country, this company, our brands and our partners. I spend much of my time traveling across America, listening to and learning from our customers, distributors and others.
Moving forward, I will continue to work tirelessly to bring great beers to consumers across our nation.