Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) opened an investigation into whether Bud Light’s partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney violated guidelines that prohibit alcohol companies from advertising to a younger audience.
“The evidence detailed below overwhelmingly shows that Dylan Mulvaney’s audience skews significantly younger than the legal drinking age,” said the letter from Cruz and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) to Brendan Whitworth, CEO of Bud Light parent company Anheuser-Busch.
“We believe that Anheuser-Busch’s clear failure to exercise appropriate due diligence when selecting online influencers for its marketing efforts warrants detailed oversight by Congress,” the letter said.
The company’s partnership with Mulvaney was first made public on April 1. Mulvaney revealed the partnership on social media, showing a Bud Light can featuring the influencer’s face. Mulvaney also posted a video drinking Bud Light in a bathtub.
Whitworth is also the chairman of the Beer Institute, the beer industry’s trade association. The senators pressed him to open an investigation into whether Bud Light violated the organization’s prohibitions on advertising to a young audience. They also requested several documents for a congressional investigation.
Cruz and Blackburn detailed in the letter how Mulvaney’s audience skews younger than the drinking age. They listed popular videos that clearly appeal to kids, like ones that include Barbie dolls and show Mulvaney dressing as a child.
Bud Light is still facing the consequences of a conservative boycott over the partnership. It reportedly saw a 26 percent drop in sales from a year ago.
The senators said the Beer Institute can avoid investigating Anheuser-Busch if the company agrees to “sever its relationship with Dylan Mulvaney, publicly apologize to the American people for marketing alcoholic beverages to minors, and direct Dylan Mulvaney to remove any Anheuser-Busch content from his social media platforms.”
The demands from the senators come after the company tried to distance itself from the controversial influencer. CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev Michel Doukeris told investors “we need to clarify the facts that this was one camp, one influencer, one post, and not a campaign.” Anheuser-Busch will triple media spending supporting Bud Light this summer.
Bud Light is not alone in facing backlash for advertising. Miller Lite is facing blowback for a months-old ad that pushed a feminist message.
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