In a recent interview, Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth was questioned about the controversial Bud Light promotion featuring transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. The promotion, which celebrated Mulvaney’s first year of “girlhood,” has been met with significant backlash, leading to a decline in Bud Light sales.
Whitworth was asked if he would allow the promotion to happen again, given the negative response. He responded, “It’s been a challenging few weeks. I think the conversation surrounding Bud Light has moved away from beer, and the conversation has become divisive. And Bud Light really doesn’t belong there. Bud Light should be all about bringing people together.”
The CEO was also asked about the intended goal of the promotional campaign. Whitworth downplayed the significance of the campaign, stating it was just “one can,” but acknowledged the need to understand its impact on employees, consumers, and partners. He said, “One thing I’d love to make extremely clear is that impact is my responsibility and as the CEO, everything we do here I’m accountable for.”
Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth was on CBS Mornings and lamented "the conversation has become divisive." Co-host Tony Dokoupil, of course, blamed Republicans and the "conservative political agenda" and asked if he would do it again. Whitworth danced around the question (1/3) pic.twitter.com/XrAOKPStpd
— Alex Christy (@alexchristy17) June 28, 2023
When pressed on whether he would send Mulvaney the can again in hindsight, Whitworth did not provide a direct answer. Instead, he spoke about the broader social conversation taking place and the need for big brands to understand and appreciate what consumers want and expect.
Despite the controversy, Whitworth reaffirmed Bud Light’s support for the LGBTQ community, a stance the company has held since 1998. He emphasized the company’s focus on brewing great beer for everyone and listening to their consumers.
The CEO was also asked about Bud Light’s political donations, given that the company has both supported LGBTQ rights and donated to conservative politicians. Whitworth responded, “We support politicians that support our business, and when we say that we talk about things like — things that work for the industry, allow us to grow the business, allow us to employ more people and really help drive the economy.”
Despite the backlash and decline in sales, Bud Light remains America’s top-selling beer year-to-date. However, Modelo has recently surpassed it in U.S. retail store sales. Whitworth shared that he has been listening to customers who want Bud Light to return to its roots, emphasizing good times, goodwill, and easy enjoyment.