In the world of influencer marketing, brands often seek to collaborate with individuals who can help promote their products or services to a wide audience. However, the responsibility of a brand goes beyond mere promotion. They must also show support and stand by the influencers they hire, especially when faced with backlash or criticism. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as highlighted by the recent controversy surrounding Bud Light and influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Dylan Mulvaney, a trans influencer, recently spoke out against Bud Light for their lack of support amid transphobic backlash following a sponsored advertisement featuring Mulvaney. In a TikTok video captioned “Trans people like beer, too,” Mulvaney expressed her disappointment in the brand for not publicly standing by her during this challenging time.
“For a company to hire a trans person and then not publicly stand by them is worse, in my opinion, than not hiring a trans person at all,” Mulvaney stated. She believed that the lack of condemnation from Bud Light allowed customers to freely express hateful and transphobic sentiments.
After posting the sponsored advertisement for Bud Light, Mulvaney faced a barrage of bullying and transphobia that exceeded her expectations. The hateful comments and actions took a toll on her mental and emotional well-being, causing her to fear leaving her own home. Mulvaney expressed her feelings of loneliness and the challenges she experienced as a result of the backlash.
“I’m not telling you this because I want your pity. I’m telling you this because if this is my experience from a very privileged perspective, know that it is much, much worse for other trans people,” Mulvaney emphasized.
Despite the significant impact on Mulvaney’s life, Bud Light failed to reach out or offer support to the influencer. This lack of response further exacerbated the distress Mulvaney felt, leaving her feeling abandoned by the brand she had collaborated with. The absence of any form of communication from Bud Light added to her feelings of isolation and despair.
In April, Mulvaney posted the advertisement for Bud Light, featuring a personalized beer can. The video quickly attracted transphobic criticism from conservatives, who called for a boycott of the beer brand. Unfortunately, the backlash had severe consequences for Bud Light, as sales dropped by nearly 25% in the four weeks ending on June 3, causing the brand to lose its top spot in the US beer market.
In the wake of the controversy, Bud Light responded to the situation by issuing a statement to wholesalers, claiming that the promotion featuring Mulvaney was the work of an outside agency without the awareness or approval of Anheuser-Busch management. However, this explanation did little to address the concerns raised by Mulvaney and the trans community.
Mulvaney’s TikTok video was a powerful and courageous move, as she shed light on the challenges faced by trans influencers and individuals. Her video resonated with many, drawing attention to the importance of brands standing up against hate and supporting the voices they choose to represent their products.
Brendan Whitworth, CEO of Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Bud Light, recently stated in an interview that the company would provide financial support to wholesalers who have faced challenges when selling the beer. While this commitment is a step in the right direction, it remains to be seen whether it will address the core issue of supporting influencers like Dylan Mulvaney in the face of transphobic backlash.
This incident highlights the significant impact influencers have in shaping public opinion and the responsibility brands have in supporting them. Influencers often face intense scrutiny and backlash for their collaborations, particularly when they challenge societal norms or represent marginalized communities. It is crucial for brands to recognize the potential consequences of their influencer partnerships and actively support their collaborators.
The case of Dylan Mulvaney and Bud Light serves as a reminder of the importance of brands taking a stand against hate and supporting the voices they choose to represent their products. It is not enough for companies to simply hire influencers; they must also publicly stand by them when faced with adversity. The power and influence of influencers should not be underestimated, and brands need to understand the impact of their actions on both the individual and the broader community. By actively supporting their influencers, brands can foster a more inclusive and accepting society.
First reported by The Guardian.