Trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney 'suffering sleepless nights' after Bud Light sponsorship backlash

11 May 2023, 19:49

Dylan Mulvaney has suffered from sleepless nights after the backlash to her Bud Light partnership
Dylan Mulvaney has suffered from sleepless nights after the backlash to her Bud Light partnership. Picture: Instagram/Alamy

By Kit Heren

Transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney has revealed she suffers from sleepless nights after a huge backlash to her partnership with Bud Light.

A disastrous marketing stunt involving Ms Mulvaney at the start of April saw sales of the American flagship beer plummet 26 per cent, despite Anheuser-Busch reporting first-quarter earnings of $1.65 billion. Some $4 billion came off the company's value as the share price plummeted.

She posted a video of her drinking a customised Bud Light using the hashtag #Budlightpartner, sparking outrage among beer drinkers who felt they were being abandoned by the brand.

Bud Light boss Michel Doukeris blamed "misinformation and confusion" for the backlash and drop in the company's value, adding that the company never intended to put the customised can on general sale.

Speaking on Dear Schuyler' podcast, hosted by trans athlete Schuyler Bailar, Ms Mulvaney said: "I remember even in college, just a few years ago, if one person potentially didn't like me it would keep me up at night and now there are hundreds of thousands of people that do not like me," she said.

Dylan Mulvaney
Dylan Mulvaney. Picture: Instagram

"I still sometimes can't sleep, but it in a weird way it has been a blessing to break that people-pleasing mentality, because there's no way that I can win those people over,' she said.

"If you go back to some of my earlier videos, I was pleading with these people, I was like, 'What can I say to show them a different part of myself? What can I do?'"

Ms Mulvaney also explained why she has come off social media in the wake of the negative coverage.

"I've been wondering a lot this past week what the psychological effects are, and will be, of being called a man thousands and thousands of times a day," she said.

But retreating from social media has had the side effect of not getting supportive messages.

She said: "I want to be accessible to the right people but in other ways, if one person ruins it for us all I can't check the DMs, or I have to limit the comments."

Ms Mulvaney added that the process had made her more resilient, but that she didn't want to lose her sensitivity.

Dylan Mulvaney
Dylan Mulvaney. Picture: Getty

"What would make me more sad than anything is if I was too hardened as a person or become jaded or not care, because I care so deeply that I like that part of myself," she said. "Sometimes I think that we need to find the balance there."

The backlash to Ms Mulvaney included Boston Red Sox fans voting with their feet and avoiding Bud Light during a packed Major League Baseball game in the US.

Meanwhile musician Kid Rock filmed himself shooting cases of the beer with a machine gun and shouting: “F*** Bud Light! And f*** Anheuser-Busch!"

Tucker Carlson, one of America’s conservative TV anchors, said: “Bud Light fails over this. I don’t want to root for bankruptcy, but in this case, I think we have to hope for that."

Country music star Travis Tritt also said he would be boycotting Bud Light and other Anheuser-Busch drinks on his tour.

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At Boston’s Fenway Park, video emerged of a completely deserted Bud Light stand.

“Fenway Park Bud Light stand Ghost Town!” Luis Tejada, a local estate agent captioned the video. It has received over 1million views on TikTok. 

“Guys, this is so funny and bizarre,” he said in a thick Boston accent.

“Look at that. That is the Bud Light... that is every single Bud Light stand here at Fenway Park in Boston,” he exclaimed, showing the empty countertop.  

Mulvany posted the content to coincide with the NCAA March Madness tournament
Mulvany posted the content to coincide with the NCAA March Madness tournament. Picture: TikTok/Dylanmulvaney

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Daniel Blake, who was the vice president for Anheuser-Busch's mainstream brands including Bud Light, stepped back from his job amid the controversy.

Ms Mulvaney posted several videos and images on Instagram as part of the paid partnership, but it is unclear exactly how much she was paid.

According to the New York Post, the company has promised "there will be an improved screening process before any marketing hits the public."

US CEO of Anheuser-Busch Brendan Whitworth was forced to issue a public statement two weeks into the controversy, writing: “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people.

“We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer… Moving forward I will continue to work tirelessly to bring great beers to consumers across our nation.”

Beer sales appeared to drop in rural areas of midwestern and southern America, a big market for Bud Light, according to Beer Business Daily.

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