Would Bud Light do it all over again? Anheuser-Busch’s US CEO dodges question of whether promo with a transgender influencer was a ‘mistake.’

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  • Anheuser-Busch’s US CEO spoke to CBS about the controversy the beer brand has faced.
  • The company’s Bud Light brand saw backlash over a promotion that featured a transgender influencer.
  • The CEO didn’t say whether he thought the promo a “mistake,” but said the brand would continue to support LGBTQ+ organizations.

Anheuser-Busch’s US CEO Brendan Whitworth addressed the Bud Light controversy that the beer brand has been embroiled in since April in a recent interview, but he stopped short of saying whether he thought the promo with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney was a “mistake” or not.

Whitworth was asked in an interview with CBS Wednesday about where the brand stands on LGBTQ+ rights, following the months-long backlash from the promo with Mulvaney, and whether Bud Light would do it all over again in hindsight.

“There’s a big social conversation taking place right now, and big brands are right in the middle of it, and it’s not just our industry or Bud Light. It’s happening in retail, happening in fast food,” Whitworth told CBS Wednesday. 

“For us what we need to deeply understand and appreciate is the consumer and what they want, what they care about and what they expect from big brands,” Whitworth told CBS.  

Other brands have recently faced anti-LGBTQ+ backlash, including Target for some items in its Pride month collection. 

The beer brand has been working on alleviating the fallout it faced since partnering with Mulvaney on a Bud Light promotion, which included a custom beer can that featured a picture of her face. 

Shortly after Mulvaney posted the promotion on her Instagram in April, a wave of conservative backlash hit the brand, while LGBTQ+ advocates called on Anheuser-Busch to support the transgender community. 

The backlash against Bud Light has impacted the brand: A boycott on the brand has caused sales to drop, and their employees and wholesalers have reported incidents with angry customers. Analysts from JP Morgan have also warned that sales could continue to drop, and predicted some consumers will swear off Bud Light “for the foreseeable future.” 

Anheuser-Busch is now spending nearly three times more on Bud Light advertising, Whitworth told CBS Wednesday. Part of that money has gone to Anheuser-Busch’s new summer campaign, which features the slogan “That’s who we are” and features the people behind the beer, from farmers to delivery drivers. Whitworth said that the company has started sending financial support to wholesalers. 

Whitworth was then asked about whether he thought that the promo with Mulvaney had been a “mistake.”

Whitworth didn’t directly answer the question, but said that Bud Light has supported LGBTQ+ organizations over the last 25 years — and that the brand will continue to do so. 

“We’ll continue to support the communities and organizations that we’ve supported for decades,” Whitworth told CBS. “But as we move forward, we want to focus on what we do best, which is brewing great beer for everyone, listening to our consumers, being humble in listening to them, making sure that we do right by our employees, take care and support our partners, and ultimately make an impact in the communities that we serve.”

The Bud Light brand has also donated to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians in the past, the interviewers pointed out in the CBS segment. When asked where the company stands on LGBTQ+ rights, Whitworth said: “We support politicians that support our business, and when we say that we talk about things that work for the industry, allow us to grow the business, allow us to employ more people, and really help drive the economy.”

A spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment ahead of publication.

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