By Jack Phillips
In what appears to be an attempt to win back the audience that was angered over Bud Light after its endorsement deal with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney, Anheuser-Busch launched a new patriotic advertisement with its most iconic image.
The advertisement, released Friday on social media, shows a Clydesdale horse—used for decades by Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser—walking past the Grand Canyon, New York City, and other landmarks. The clip didn’t make mention of Mulvaney or issue an apology.
“This is a story bigger than beer,” the narrator in the video says. “This is the story of the American spirit.”
The advertisement also shows an American flag being raised. And one of the flag-raisers is seen putting a hand over her heart as the narrator says the beer is “brewed for those who found opportunity in challenge and hope in tomorrow.”
AB InBev, which owns Anheuser-Busch, is the world’s largest brewer and owns Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob, Stella Artois, Beck’s, and a number of other brands. It owns about 630 beer brands in 150 countries.
In the midst of the controversy, country music singer John Rich, singer Travis Tritt, rocker Kid Rock, and others called for boycotts against Bud Light. A number of analysts and industry experts also questioned why Bud Light chose Mulvaney as a partner, saying the move would be repellent to the beer’s consumer base.
Some Bud Light and Anheuser-Busch distributors around the country have expressed alarm over the deal, with one report saying that a number of bars have refused to serve Bud Light. Country singer and Nashville bar owner John Rich, meanwhile, told Fox News earlier this week that his bar won’t sell the beer.
“I simply don’t understand why they hired the person who was doing the marketing,” Oxygen Financial CEO Ted Jenkin told Fox News last week. “I mean, if your target customer is Kid Rock, and then all of a sudden you decide to go to RuPaul, that just doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Since Bud Light generally goes after “blue-collar workers and younger adults that are 25 to 29 years old,” the Mulvaney campaign should be problematic for the firm. “So, I don’t think that this one campaign is going to colossally destroy the brand,” Jenkin said.
Around the same time that the Budweiser advertisement was released, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch issued a statement but did not mention Mulvaney or the controversy directly. The statement also did not address reports of boycotts or distributors being worried about low sales.
“We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people,” Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Brendan Whitworth said in a press release. “We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”
“I care deeply about this country, this company, our brands and our partners. I spend much of my time traveling across America, listening to and learning from our customers, distributors and others,” his statement said. “Moving forward, I will continue to work tirelessly to bring great beers to consumers across our nation.”
After the ad was released, it drew significant engagement on Twitter. But most of it was negative.
“Hey @AnheuserBusch, if you’re at a point where you’re literally referencing 9/11 in hopes that it would make us flyover yokels run to the store to salute a 12-pack of Bud Light, you should just apologize instead. Hoping we’re stupid enough to buy this ad is insulting,” Red State senior editor Brandon Morse wrote in response.
“Budweiser release pro-American ad 2 weeks after Dylan Mulvaney backlash,” former influencer and de-transition activist Oli London wrote. “The new advert, comes after Anheuser-Busch CEO released a statement which failed to apologise for the backlash and instead talked about traditional values and being pro-America.”
“You aren’t putting that genie back in the bottle, guys,” “Rambo” and “Black Hawk Down” actor Matthew Marsden wrote.