The controversy surrounding AB InBev’s Bud Light brand continues as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis asks the State Board of Administration (SBA) to “initiate a review” into its holdings with the parent company.
The Bud Light brand has been subject to backlash in the US since 1 April after it entered a minor partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney who promoted the beer brand in a video on social media outlet Instagram, commemorating a college basketball tournament held by the National Collegiate Athletics Association.
The sponsorship led to calls for a boycott of Bud Light from conservatives.
In the letter sent on 20 July, DeSantis suggested that AB InBev had “breached legal duties owed to its shareholders” when it decided to associate with “radical social ideologies”.
DeSantis said: “We must prudently manage the funds of Florida’s hardworking law enforcement officers, teachers, firefighters and first responders in a manner that focuses on growing returns, not subsidising an ideological agenda through woke virtue signalling”.
Union’s latest ‘OnPrem Insights’ report found that from April of this year through to 30 June, Bud Light’s sales share in the Carolinas fell 6.9 points, from 19.4% to 12.5%.
In May, AB InBev’s CEO Michel Doukeris said during an investor conference call that Bud Light’s volume had declined in the US during the first three weeks of April, representing around 1% of overall global volumes for that period.
DeSantis requested that the SBA “immediately initiate a review” to examine “how AB InBev’s conduct has impacted and continues to impact the value of SBA’s AB InBev holdings”.
Mulvaney posted a TikTok video on 29 June alleging Bud Light never reached out to them as she faced online hate following the company’s promotion.
In the video, she said: “For a company to hire a trans person and then not publicly stand by them is worse in my opinion than not hiring a trans person at all because it gives customers permission to be as transphobic and hateful as they want”.
Numerous publications reported that the Anheuser-Busch (wholly owned by AB InBev) Budweiser factory in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, was the target of a bomb threat on 13 April.
On 14 April, Brendan Whitworth, CEO of Anheuser-Busch, expressed the company’s intentions, which said: “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. 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…Moving forward, I will continue to work tirelessly to bring great beers to consumers across our nation.”
Days after Mulvaney’s video was posted, musician Kid Rock is said to have been among the first of several celebrities to react, in a video that featured himself shooting a stack of Bud Light cases. At the end of the video, Kid Rock can be heard saying “F*** Bud Light” and “F*** Anheuser-Busch”.
Musician Travis Tritt wrote on a social media post: “I will be deleting all Anheuser-Busch products from my tour hospitality rider. I know many other artists who are doing the same.”
AB InBev has been contacted by FoodBev for comment.
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