A brand deal between Anheuser-Busch and transgender actor and TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney was met with anti-trans backlash — but the beer company said it will continue to try to reach diverse groups of people.
Mulvaney, who has over 10 million followers on TikTok, posted an Instagram video on April 1 in which she drinks a Bud Light and reveals a custom beer can with her face on it. In the video, the 26-year-old influencer promotes the company’s March Madness contest with a $15,000 prize while dressed as Audrey Hepburn’s character Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's; the caption identifies her as a #budlightpartner.
She then shares that she has celebrated 365 days of womanhood, which she has been documenting in a TikTok series. On her social media platforms, she also sings, makes fashion content, and promotes other companies like Ole, Eos, and Netflix.
“I kept hearing about this thing called March Madness. And I thought we were all just having a hectic month but it turns out it has something to do with sports,” she jokes in the video. “I'm not exactly sure which sport but either way it's a cause to celebrate.”
Mulvaney described the can as possibly the best gift ever.
The comedic promotional video prompted anti-trans outrage across right-wing media and also from musician Kid Rock. On Monday, the singer released a video of him shooting multiple Bud Light cans while wearing a Make America Great Again hat.
“Grandpa’s feeling a little frisky today. Let me say something to all you and be as clear and concise as possible,” he says before firing at four packs of cans with a rifle and proceeding to flip off the camera. “Fuck Bud Light and fuck Anheuser-Busch. Have a terrific day.”
Bud Light’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch, has not specifically addressed the backlash, but it did explain its decision to partner with Mulvaney as part of its efforts to reach diverse groups of consumers. The custom can was intended to celebrate her reaching a milestone after transitioning.
“Anheuser-Busch works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics,” a spokesperson said in a statement shared with BuzzFeed News. “From time to time we produce unique commemorative cans for fans and for brand influencers, like Dylan Mulvaney. This commemorative can was a gift to celebrate a personal milestone and is not for sale to the general public.”
Anheuser-Busch did not comment on Kid Rock’s video.
The right-wing rhetoric and Kid Rock’s video come as transgender people continue to be targeted by Republican lawmakers. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 451 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country so far this year.