In a letter written to Anheuser-Busch CEO by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the company is being accused of openly marketing alcoholic products to minors following their recent relationship with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. The letter alleges that the beer company was aware that Mulvaney and his content is actively skewed towards a younger audience, and despite knowing this, entered a partnership with him to advertise alcohol on his channels. Cruz and Blackburn also threatened the company with a full-fledged conduct investigation if they did not formally cease their relationship with Mulvaney by the end of the month.
By Bryan Chai; May 19, 2023
When Bud Light and Anheuser-Busch teamed up with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, it angered swaths of Americans on a fundamental level.
Up is not down, black is not white, and men are not women. A beer that tastes like swill giving tacit approval to the perversion of God’s natural order of creation was the final straw for many.
People were justifiably furious at Bud Light, and the subsequent boycotts have tanked sales, shaken up company leadership, and generally damaged the brand. Culturally, it was an unmitigated disaster the likes of which the retail world has seldom seen.
Now? There may be a grievous legal injury added to insult after Sens. Ted Cruz and Marsha Blackburn, a pair of fiery Republicans, formally opened an investigation into the Belgian brewing titan.
In a joint news release on Wednesday, it was announced that Cruz and Blackburn would be calling on “the beer industry’s self-regulatory body — the Beer Institute — to investigate whether Anhueser-Busch’s partnership with influencer Dylan Mulvaney violates the Beer Institute’s guidelines prohibiting marketing to underage individuals.”
Cruz and Blackburn are the ranking members of the Senate Commerce Committee and the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, respectively.
In a letter calling on Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth to cut all ties with Mulvaney, the senators expressed concerns over “evidence showing that Dylan Mulvaney’s audience skews younger than the legal drinking age and that Mulvaney’s social media content appeals to young viewers.”
“We would urge you … to avoid a lengthy investigation by the Beer Institute by instead having Anheuser-Busch publicly 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 senators said.
“Second, 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.
“To that end, this letter includes a series of document requests that will help clarify how Anheuser-Busch vets its partnerships and how Anheuser-Busch failed in assessing the propriety of a partnership with Dylan Mulvaney.”
The letter then highlights some of the aforementioned evidence regarding Mulvaney’s fan base. The social media star has 1.8 million followers on Instagram and 10.8 million followers on TikTok.
Cruz and Blackburn noted that Mulvaney is known for a video series called “Days of Girlhood” documenting the “gender transition” for which he is famous. The series “received over 750 million views in less than 100 days,” the letter said, citing Mulvaney’s talent agency.
“The use of the phrase ‘Girlhood’ was not a slip of the tongue but rather emblematic of a series of Mulvaney’s online content that was specifically used to target, market to, and attract an audience of young people who are well below the legal drinking age in the United States.”
The letter points out that any “objective survey” of Mulvaney’s social media content “clearly presents a faux, pre-pubescent girl persona that is created and presented to specifically appeal to young viewers.”
Cruz and Blackburn may be pulling on a brilliant thread that many conservatives had not even thought of.
Nary was a voice asking “What about the children?” when the Mulvaney controversy first exploded, but now that Cruz and Blackburn have asked it, it opens a whole new can of worms for those cans of gross beer.
For Cruz, there’s a precedent for this kind of impermissible advertising. Just ask anyone who was addicted to nicotine in the ’80s and ’90s.
Appearing on Fox News, Cruz recalled the backlash to Joe Camel (the mascot of the cigarette brand Camel) convincing kids to smoke.
“Remember the whole Joe Camel thing?” Cruz asked. “This is the same thing here.”
Cruz and Blackburn have given Anheuser-Busch until the end of the month to respond and provide documents showing what they did or did not know about Mulvaney’s target audience.
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