(WICS) — CLAIM: Brewing company Anheuser-Busch fired its entire marketing department in response to its partnership with a transgender influencer and the rollout of LGBTQ Pride-themed Bud Light cans that feature various pronouns.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The claim about the marketing department initially spread as satire but some social media users shared it as real. Anheuser-Busch has not fired its marketing team, the company confirmed in a statement. Further, the cans were part of a limited rollout marking Pride Month in 2022 in Canada, and aren’t connected to the brand’s partnership with social media star Dylan Mulvaney.
THE FACTS: The popular beer brand’s partnership with the influencer in recent days sparked a wave of transphobic commentary among conservative social media personalities, who attacked the company for supposedly turning to “woke” advertising.
Mulvaney, who is known for her popular series on TikTok documenting her gender transition, first posted a sponsored Instagram reel on Saturday coinciding with the final days of the NCAA’s March Madness tournament.
In the video, Mulvaney cracks open a regular can of Bud Light, chats about March Madness, promotes a Bud Light contest and says that the brand had also sent her a special can with her face on it to celebrate the year anniversary of documenting her transition.
Country musician Kid Rock soon chimed in, posting a video of him wearing a “MAGA” hat while shooting a rifle at packs of Bud Light. He and at least one other country musician claimed to be boycotting the brand over the post.
Amid the backlash, a satirical website published a post claiming that Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Bud Light, had fired its entire marketing team responsible for the moves. Some social media users shared the information as if it were genuine, posting screenshots of the headline.
Anheuser-Busch confirmed in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday that it had not fired its marketing team in response to the Mulvaney sponsorship.
“There is no truth to that statement,” the company said, also emphasizing that the one-off can it sent to Mulvaney with her face on it is not available for wider release.
Anheuser-Busch works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics,” the brand said. “From time to time we produce unique commemorative cans for fans and for brand influencers, like Dylan Mulvaney. This commemorative can was a gift to celebrate a personal milestone and is not for sale to the general public.”
The transphobic rhetoric online was compounded by others sharing images of a year-old Canadian Bud Light campaign to claim the company was also pivoting to Pride-themed cans emblazoned with rainbows and pronouns.
“In Addition to having Dylan Mulvaney as the new Brand Ambassador for Bud Light, the brand has also released special Non-Binary beers to ‘celebrate everyone’s identity’ featuring pronouns including ‘they/them’ and ‘xe xer,’” one user wrote on Sunday, neglecting to mention that the cans were part of an old, limited campaign in one country.
Those cans are not related to Mulvaney, nor are they recent or available everywhere. A May 2022 press release by Bud Light Canada promoting Pride Month initiatives that year explains that it would be releasing “limited-edition pronoun-inspired Pride cans” as well as providing a total of $100,000 to various organizations supporting Canadian LGBTQ groups.
A 2022 Pride Month page on the Canadian version of its website further says: “For over 20 years, Bud Light has been a proud pride partner and this year, we’re celebrating the unique gender identities of many Canadians through our can design.”