Anheuser-Busch Faces Backlash Over Partnership with Transgender Influencer: A Lesson in Inclusivity and Marketing

Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Bud Light, has been facing backlash over its partnership with transgender TikTok star and social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Mulvaney shared a video on April 1 in which she participated in Bud Light's Easy Carry Contest for the end of March Madness, and revealed that the company helped her celebrate her “365th day of womanhood” with a commemorative can of Bud Light with her face emblazoned on the side.[0] While the statement made no mention of Mulvaney by name, Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth recently released a statement addressing the backlash, saying that the company never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people and is in the business of bringing people together over a beer. He added that he cares deeply about the company, its brands, partners, and the country, and spends much of his time traveling across America, listening to and learning from customers, distributors, and others.[1]

Anheuser-Busch has been known to support the LGBTQ+ community, having previously partnered with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and highlighted the brand's “20 years of support of the LGBTQ+ community through various organizations and activations.”[2] However, the recent controversy has led to country singer-songwriter Travis Tritt announcing on Twitter that he would be “deleting all Anheuser-Busch products from my tour hospitality rider,” and that there were “many other artists who are doing the same.”[0]

Bud Light's Vice President of Marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid, had previously explained that the brand had been identified as being “fratty” with an “out-of-touch humor,” and that her goal was to “evolve and elevate” it.[3] From her perspective, the way to encourage young people to drink more Bud Light was to focus on inclusivity, and the brand has long marketed itself to LGBTQ+ drinkers, selling Bud Light in rainbow cans for Pride and partnering with groups like GLAAD and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.[2]

While Anheuser-Busch works with hundreds of influencers across its brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics, the recent backlash has highlighted the importance of being mindful and sensitive to the messages and partnerships being portrayed.[4] As brands continue to navigate the intersectionality of inclusivity and marketing, it is crucial to prioritize authenticity and respect for all individuals and communities.

0. “Musician Reactions to Bud Light’s Trans-Inclusive Initiative” Billboard, 11 Apr. 2023,

1. “Anheuser-Busch CEO on Dylan Mulvaney Bud Light Campaign: ‘Never Intended to Be Part of a Discussion That Divides’” Yahoo Entertainment, 14 Apr. 2023,

2. “Bud Light uproar exposes need for marketers to manage marketer influencer controversies” Digiday, 14 Apr. 2023,

3. “Analysis | What the Bud Light backlash has in common with today's Republican Party” The Washington Post, 11 Apr. 2023,

4. “Bud Light sponsors NFL Draft as beer brand faces backlash over Dylan Mulvaney partnership” Fox News, 14 Apr. 2023,

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