It’s been a rough run for Anheuser-Busch and its Bud Light brand. Since Bud Light’s controversial marketing partnership with trans celebrity Dylan Mulvaney – which saw the TikTok influencer promoting a March Madness contest and frolicking in a bubble bath surrounded by the beer – the company has lost some $7.5 billion in market value and drawn the ire of celebrities like John Rich, Kid Rock, and Travis Tritt to name a few.
The situation appears to be another example of large corporations that ‘get woke, go broke.’ Earlier this week, Megyn referenced a clip of Bud Light’s vice president of marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid, bemoaning the brand’s “fratty” and “out of touch” image and extolling her ability to “evolve” and “elevate” it through “inclusivity.”
If the numbers are any indication, the ‘inclusive’ approach is not attracting new customers at the same rate it is alienating existing ones. On Thursday’s show, Megyn said it is clear people are “ticked off” and “pushing back,” and she was joined by Andrew Klavan, host of the The Andrew Klavan Show, to discuss the controversy and why it looks like Bud Light is starting to regret the partnership.
The Blame Game
What may have started off as just another influencer campaign quickly devolved into a public relations nightmare for Bud Light. As Megyn described it, “all hell broke loose” for the brand that has now lost billions in valuation, seen sales plummet, and angered a large swath of its customers. “The core base is mad at Bud Light,” she noted. “They don’t appreciate this partnership.”
Rather than take responsibility, new reporting from The Daily Wire suggests the higher ups at Bud Light are feigning ignorance. Unnamed sources “close to the situation” told The Daily Wire that “no one at the senior level” was aware of this partnership with Mulvaney. They instead blamed it on “some low-level marketing staffer” who is part of managing the “hundreds of influencer engagements” the company is involved with at any given time. Bud Light also appears to be pausing all marketing efforts in order to implement a more “robust” review process.
Megyn said it doesn’t matter who specifically decided to work with Mulvaney because it is ultimately a reflection of leadership. “The person who we thought approved it is the VP of marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid, and if Alissa did not specifically approve this ad, shame on her,” Megyn said. “It’s still her problem because it’s her department, she allowed it, and she was on the air three days before the campaign hit talking about how ‘we’ve gotten too fratty’ and ‘we need to be more inclusive.’”
Bud Light and Other Brands Miss the Mark on Womanhood
Prior to the Bud Light campaign, Mulvaney had also secured brand partnerships with Olay, Nike, Kate Spade, and others. One of the biggest issues Klavan sees with Mulvaney acting as a spokesperson in any of these scenarios is the way in which womanhood is portrayed. “That’s not the way women behave – [Mulvaney] is not being a woman; he is doing a woman,” Klavan said. “Everything about what he is doing is a show and a performance.”
As Klavan explained, “to say that a man is a woman is to take away a person’s identity from the ground up; it is to strip her of who she is and what she goes through; it is so disrespectful and so hateful.” Megyn agreed. “Dylan Mulvaney infantilizes us, Dylan parodies us, Dylan demeans us, Dylan dresses like a little girl and prances around fake hotel rooms throwing her legs up in the air as though this is what a woman is,” she explained. “Give me a break!”
The way Megyn sees it, it is difficult enough to find strong female role models in pop culture today and putting Mulvaney up on a pedestal as some kind of paragon of femininity is only further detrimental to the cause. “We’ve tried really hard to find better examples for little girls – this is one of the reasons why it can’t stand the f–king Kardashians, they’re not good for little girls either and we’ve been speaking out about that,” Megyn lamented. “Dylan Mulvaney is in the same camp – that’s not a woman, that’s not what womanhood is, and that should stop being promoted as though it is.”
The Future of Bud Light
Klavan did not mince words in talking about the future of Bud Light and its parent company. Describing the situation as “dehumanizing” and “hateful,” he said Bud Light “deserves everything it gets.” In his view, it’s not enough for the stock prices to go down. “I hope Anheuser-Busch is forced out of business,” he said. “I want them to be unable to sell a beer in any state in this country – not because of the law, but because people simply will not buy it for the hateful thing they did.
He also hopes that women refuse to be quiet. “The idea that Dylan Mulvaney should be representing female products is twice as wicked, twice as hateful, but… because women are women, they don’t stand up like men do,” he said. “Men get angry when you do this stuff and they strike back, and women should strike back too.”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Klavan by tuning in to episode 528 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.