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Bud Light gives wholesalers free beer to smooth over tensions

Following the backlash over its partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney, Bud Light is allegedly gifting a case of free beer to all its wholesale distributors.

AB InBev has offered free cases of beer to all employees who work for its wholesalers to make up for lagging sales and excess stock following a consumer boycott of its Bud Light products, unnamed distributors told Business Insider.

The company has further revealed it will be upping its marketing spend to help stem the sales drop following a month-long retaliation to the brand’s social media partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney which began when they gave her a beer can with her face printed on it.

In the week beginning 15 April 2023, sales of Bud Light dropped by 17%, according to Nielsen data. Meanwhile, competitors Coors Light and Miller Light saw their own sales jump nearly 18% in the same week.

Sportswear company Nike received a similar, albeit smaller, outcry earlier this month when it too partnered with Mulvaney. Featuring her in a campaign designed to celebrate female athletes, the company’s ad showed Mulvaney modelling Nike sports bras.

In a post since deleted, one TikTok user complained: “You chose a little boy with no breasts and some junk in his pants to represent real women.”

On YouTube, another commenter said: “Prayers to all the natural born women who could have gotten that job but it was given to a man”.

Others called the Nike campaign “insulting”, with one critic announcing: “I’m waiting for Nike to put out an ad using a trans man to sell jock cups.”

Nike quickly moved to squash the negative comments, posting on Instagram that: “Hate speech, bullying, or other behaviors that are not in the spirit of a diverse and inclusive community will be deleted.”

Bud Light, on the other hand, failed conclusively to back Mulvaney following the outrage over its partnership with her. Instead, AB InBev CEO Brendan Whitworth skirted around the edges, simpering that the company “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people.”

Whitworth’s fence-sitting has angered those on both sides of the argument; those conservatives who disapprove of the brand’s “woke” campaign, and the liberals who feel Bud Light has not gone far enough to vocalise its support for minority communities.

Mulvaney’s bespoke Bud Light can was designed by the brand to celebrate her first full year as a woman. She filmed herself cracking open the can to honour the milestone, only to receive a tirade of anti-trans abuse.

In the wake of the furore, Bud Light’s vice president of marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid, has taken a leave of absence from the company, as has AB InBev’s president of marketing, Daniel Blake.

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