Anheuser-Busch facilities face threats after Bud Light backlash (2024)

Several Anheuser-Busch facilities received threats last week, a company spokesperson confirmed, following weeks of backlash against Bud Light because it sponsored two Instagram posts from a transgender woman.

"The safety of our employees is always our top priority," the company spokesperson said in a statement to CNN. "We worked quickly with local law enforcement to ensure the security of our people and our facilities."

The spokesperson did not share specific locations that had been threatened, but the Los Angeles police department told CNN that it responded to a bomb threat and conducted a sweep of an Anheuser-Busch brewery in the Van Nuys neighborhood last week.

A pair of Instagram posts by influencer Dylan Mulvaney sparked a mix of online backlash and support and became a target in conservative media. The company's response, a vague pro-unity statement from the CEO that did not mention Mulvaney or the Instagram posts, has been criticized as weak, angering some trans advocates and failing to mollify some anti-trans critics.

But threats of physical violence have taken the incident to a dangerous new level, one that may alarm companies navigating their own marketing campaigns.

How it started

Bringing young customers into the fold is a business imperative for brands like Bud Light, which needs to stay relevant with the next generation in order to grow. An inclusive campaign and a partnership with an influencer like Mulvaney, who has 10.8 million followers on TikTok, can help achieve those goals. But often, moves to become more inclusive are not universally embraced, even as they are welcomed by supporters. When they lead to threats of violence, brands have to go on alert.

Anti-trans backlash hit Bud Light following an April 1 Instagram post from Mulvaney promoting the beer, in which she showed a custom can that Bud Light sent to her as a gift to mark a milestone in her transition. Mulvaney's timeline shows one previous post that is also marked as a Bud Light partnership.

Mulvaney is among many social media personalities that Bud Light partners with, Anheuser-Busch said in a statement to CNN last week.

"Anheuser-Busch works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics," according to a spokesperson. "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."

A few days after the post was published, musician Kid Rock posted an Instagram video of himself shooting cases of Bud Light. "F**k Bud Light, F**k Anheuser-Busch," he said. The video has garnered nearly 1.8 million views. Some conservatives called for a boycott.

Critics of the Instagram posts have pointed to Anheuser-Busch's stock performance as an indication that the brand's decision is bad for business. From March 31 to Wednesday, the company's stock price fell about 1%, a relatively minor move. The broader stock market has gained about 1% in that period.

In fact, so far this year, the company's stock is up nearly 11%. Anheuser-Busch is set to report its first-quarter financial results, including revenue, on May 4. Although analysts don't expect any potential sales boycott or boost to make a dent in a large global brand like Bud Light, the company may be asked about it on its earnings call with Wall Street investors.

Real threats and possible regrets

Still, brands don't want boycotts, and they certainly don't want threats.

"It's a big thing to cause a drop in the stock price, a drop in sales," said Andrew Gilman, founder and CEO of CommCore, a consulting group with expertise in crisis communication. But those things "will probably recover," he noted. "It's another thing if, in fact, your employees are threatened."

The situation, including the backlash and threats, could have a chilling effect on Anheuser-Busch and other brands, he said.

"If I have a consumer-facing product in America right now, I have to look at this and say, 'Okay, what lessons can we take from it.' And it does make you a little bit more cautious about anything that could cause threats to your employees, and anything that would hurt your sales."

From Gilman's perspective, the negative reaction and stock movement is a sign that Bud Light made a misstep in pursuing the partnership.

Once threats move into the real world, companies need to adjust their crisis management strategies, noted Margaret Stewart, a certified Social Media Strategist for the National Institute for Social Media who also teaches communication at the University of North Florida's communication school.

"In a circumstance like this, once the online events [present] in a different and escalated way offline, this now requires a transition of crisis response," said Stewart.

More generally, she noted, the situation should serve as a reminder to brands that there are downsides to marketing on social media, where opinions expressed tend to be more polarized than in real life. "When we're taking to the social platforms to engage, it's usually because we're engaging on topics, content, what have you ... that we really like, or that we really dislike," she said.

An attempt to move on

The backlash has, in turn, inspired some to pose while proudly holding a can of Bud Light as a show of support — even those who might not be expected to promote any type of beer. Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California posted to Twitter a photo of himself and others drinking Bud Light, and Florida state representative Angie Dixon, also a Democrat, shared in a Twitter post a photo of a can of Bud Light, writing "what a nice day to enjoy a can of @budlight." Mulvaney's fans posted words of support on her social platforms, as well.

Last week, Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth released a statement calling for unity.

"We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people," he said. "We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer." He added that the company has "a proud history supporting our communities, military, first responders, sports fans and hard-working Americans everywhere."

Gilman sees the message as an attempt to calm both sides. But it's not clear whether it succeeded: Anti-trans critics of the Instagram posts wanted the CEO to apologize for Bud Light's partnership with Mulvaney, while her supporters wanted an explicit defense of its limited partnership with the influencer, who is already part of a vulnerable community.

Transgender people are more than four times likely to be victims of violent crime than cisgender people, according to a study from the UCLA School of Law. Some of Mulvaney's supporters are even calling for their own Budweiser boycott.

The backlash is not uncommon, said Hyunjin Seo, a professor at the University of Kansas's journalism and communications school who teaches social media marketing.

"Many, many organizations have faced challenges and backlash regarding their social media campaigns," Seo said.

Experts CNN spoke with previously noted that often, calls for a boycott don't result in an actual boycott, and that controversies blow over, as was the case with Nike, which was the target of a boycott campaign when it featured Colin Kaepernick in an ad in 2018.

Seo sees Bud Light's partnership with Mulvaney as aligned with its history of marketing to LGBTQ+ communities, which includes selling Bud Light in rainbow cans for Pride Month and partnering with groups like GLAAD and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

"Its influencer marketing is consistent," with this history, she said. "As a company, on social media you try to develop your social voice and brand identity. Not everyone is going to agree."

— CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich contributed to this report.

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Anheuser-Busch facilities face threats after Bud Light backlash (2024)

FAQs

Anheuser-Busch facilities face threats after Bud Light backlash? ›

Several Anheuser-Busch facilities received threats last week, a company spokesperson confirmed, following weeks of backlash against Bud Light because it sponsored two Instagram posts from a transgender woman. “The safety of our employees is always our top priority,” the company spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.

What products did Anheuser-Busch discontinued? ›

Anheuser-Busch
NameStyleLast Active
Bud Light Lime Raz-Ber-RitaMalt Liquor03-02-2023
Bud Light Mixxtail FirewalkerMalt Liquor12-31-2022
Bud Light Mixxtail HurricaneMalt Liquor12-31-2022
Bud Light Mixxtail Long IslandMalt Liquor12-31-2022
60 more rows

Is Bud Light part of Anheuser-Busch? ›

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the parent company of Budweiser and Bud Light, reports first-quarter results on Thursday.

Is Miller Lite made by Anheuser-Busch? ›

Miller Lite beer is owned by Molson Coors Beverage Co, not Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Is Bud Light watered down beer? ›

In addition to Budweiser, the Greenbergs say the following AB InBev products are also watered down: Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Black Crown, Bud Light Lime, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, Natural Ice, and Michelob Ultra.

What are the allegations against Anheuser-Busch? ›

Anheuser-Busch InBev has agreed to pay $5 million to settle charges that it violated alcohol industry trade practice laws, including using sports and entertainment sponsorships to prohibit retailers and concessionaires from purchasing products from competitors.

How did the Busch family lose Budweiser? ›

The family passed down the company through the generations but ended up selling an estimated 25% stake from 1989 to 2008. In 2008, A group of Brazilian and Belgian investors led InBev's takeover of Anheuser-Busch, a huge blow for the family.

What's the difference between Bud Light and Budweiser? ›

Compared to Bud Light, Budweiser is heavier in every category. It has 145 calories, 10.6 grams of carbs, and 1.3 grams of protein. If you're curious about ABV, Budweiser's is five percent while Bud Light's is 4.2 percent.

What is the future of Anheuser-Busch? ›

Stock Price Forecast

The 9 analysts offering 12-month price forecasts for Anheuser-Busch Inbev SA have a median target of 67.00, with a high estimate of 80.00 and a low estimate of 64.00. The median estimate represents a +12.83% increase from the last price of 59.38.

What company owns Bud Light and Budweiser? ›

ANHEUSER-BUSCH FAMILY OF BRANDS.

Is Blue Moon owned by Anheuser-Busch? ›

To answer your first question: Yes, Blue Moon, a Belgian-style wheat beer, was created by Coors and has been one of the company's products since 1995.

Is Corona beer made by Anheuser-Busch? ›

The Mexican lager known as “Corona”, is a variation of beer that is brewed all across Mexico by its largest brewer Grupo Modelo, owned by Belgian company Anheuser-Busch InBev, and is exported to over 150 countries worldwide.

Does Miller Lite support LGBTQ? ›

From raising funds for local LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS nonprofits, to supporting the Equality Act and partnering with the Matthew Shepard Foundation to help prevent hate crimes against LGBTQ+ individuals, Miller Lite has always strived to be the best ally we can be.

Did Budweiser get sued for watering down beer? ›

Story highlights. Two California residents are suing Anheuser-Busch, alleging the company waters down Budweiser and other beers “significantly” to boost profits, their attorneys announced Tuesday.

Is Bud Light weaker than Budweiser? ›

Budweiser is advertised and labeled at 5 percent AbV. Bud Light is said to have 4.2 percent AbV.

Why does Bud Light taste different than Budweiser? ›

The difference is often in the type of yeast used to brew the beer, too.

Who is Anheuser-Busch biggest competitor? ›

Anheuser-Busch main competitors are Reckitt Benckiser, The Kraft Group, and Gerber Products. Competitor Summary. See how Anheuser-Busch compares to its main competitors: Reckitt Benckiser has the most employees (43,000).

Why was Anheuser-Busch sued in the station fire? ›

"It's a collaboration of mistakes by people." The plaintiffs blame Anheuser-Busch and its local distributor for helping promote the show. They blame Clear Channel Broadcasting, saying one of its radio stations advertised the show and one of its disc jockeys was master of ceremonies that night.

Is Budweiser donating beer to winning team? ›

Budweiser will ship the unsold Buds to the country that wins the tournament, the company said in a tweet. The company confirmed the plans in a statement to CNN Business, writing that it “wants to bring this celebration from the FIFA World Cup stadiums to the winning country's fans.”

What does Budweiser do with retired horses? ›

About 200 Budweiser Clydesdales are spread among four facilities: two in Missouri, one in New Hampshire, one in Colorado. > Clydesdales retire to prestigious homes such as Anheuser-Busch's Grant's Farm, in St. Louis, or other display stables.

What country owns Budweiser? ›

Anheuser-Busch InBev, or AB InBev, is a multinational drinks conglomerate headquartered in Belgium. It's the world's largest beer brewer by both volume and revenue, operating more than 600 beer brands in 150 countries.

How wealthy is the Busch family? ›

The Busches still have a $13.4 billion fortune from their time owning Anheuser-Busch. The fortune is shared between approximately 30 members of the family, according to Forbes.

Is Budweiser or Bud Light healthier? ›

Bud Light for example, has 110 calories, 6.6 grams of carbs, 4.2% alcohol per 12-ounce serving and a regular Budweiser is 145 calories, 11 grams of carbs and 5% alcohol. Bud Light NEXT is a healthier option.

What does the word Budweiser stand for? ›

The name Budweiser is a German derivative adjective, meaning "of Budweis". Beer has been brewed in Budweis, Bohemia (now České Budějovice, Czech Republic) since it was founded in 1265.

What is the best selling beer in USA? ›

Bud Light. Bud Light is a light lager brewed by Anheuser-Busch that is renowned for its crisp, refreshing flavor and minimal calorie content. For many years, it has been the most popular beverage in the country.

Who did Anheuser-Busch sell out to? ›

In July 2008 Anheuser-Busch agreed to be purchased by InBev for approximately $52 billion. After the takeover was finalized in November, the newly formed Anheuser-Busch InBev became the world's largest brewer.

Who owns the most stock in Anheuser-Busch? ›

Stichting Anheuser-Busch InBev is currently the largest shareholder, with 33% of shares outstanding.

What is Anheuser-Busch new name? ›

AB InBev has a global functional management office in New York City, and regional headquarters in São Paulo, London, St. Louis, Mexico City, Bremen, Johannesburg, and others. It has approximately 630 beer brands in 150 countries. AB InBev was formed through InBev acquiring the American company Anheuser-Busch.

How many beer companies does Anheuser-Busch own? ›

The company is based in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. "A-B", as the company is often called, operates 12 breweries in the United States and nearly 20 others overseas.

Does Budweiser still own Busch Gardens? ›

Busch Gardens is the name of two amusement parks in the United States, owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
...
Busch Gardens.
LocationWilliamsburg, Virginia, U.S. (Busch Gardens Williamsburg), Tampa, Florida, U.S. (Busch Gardens Tampa Bay)
OwnerSeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
5 more rows

Is Coors owned by Anheuser-Busch? ›

Sole ownership by Molson Coors

On October 11, 2016, SABMiller sold its stake in MillerCoors for around US$12 billion after the company was acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev, making Molson Coors the 100 percent owner of MillerCoors.

Is Yuengling owned by Anheuser-Busch? ›

Anheuser-Busch is now owned by AB InBev, which is based in Belgium; Yuengling remains family-owned.

Is Anheuser-Busch still family owned? ›

Since 2008, it has been wholly owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (AB InBev), now the world's largest brewing company, which owns multiple global brands, notably Budweiser, Michelob, Stella Artois, and Beck's.

Why did Belgian moon change its name? ›

What happened? A spokesperson for MillerCoors told us this: “Blue Moon Belgian White is called Belgian Moon in Canada in order to differentiate ourselves from Labatt Blue beer, a lager-style brew that is widely known in the region.

What Mexican beer does Anheuser-Busch own? ›

Its export brands include Corona, Modelo, and Pacífico. Grupo Modelo also brews brands that are intended solely for the domestic Mexican market and has exclusive rights in Mexico for the import and distribution of beer produced by Anheuser-Busch.

Does Coca Cola own Corona beer? ›

Coca-Cola and Constellation Brands (the brewer behind the Corona brand of beer made famous by the “Fast & Furious” films) are joining forces to launch “Fresca Mixed,” a canned cocktail, later this year. The announcement comes only a few months after rival soda brand Pepsi Co.

What is 2 beer queer? ›

Tom and Josh are two gay men from Washington, DC, bonding over libations and conversations. From awkward hookups to the outrageous news cycle, they're talking about all the things that you overhear your drunk friends talking about, with a focus on queer issues and culture. Put on your cutest underwear and grab a drink!

Do Miller employees get free beer? ›

We bring diversity and inclusion to the main stage by encouraging people to embrace individuality every day. Perk 2: Did I mention free beer? In addition to having access to beer and cider at our locations at the end of the work day, employees receive monthly gratis beer.

What is queer beer? ›

Queer Beer is the specialty brew brainchild of Half Pints Brewery and Pride Winnipeg, made exclusively for the Pride Winnipeg Festival. The beer is brewed as a Helles, which is a German Pilsner. It has a mild taste, with a slightly fruity aroma derived from the hops.

What beers are discontinued from Anheuser-Busch? ›

The news story reports that AB will halt production of Octulto, Mixxtails, Budweiser Black Crown, Busch Signature, Michelob Ultra Light Cider, Beck's Dark and Beck's Sapphire. All the brands will end next spring. Wholesalers have reportedly been notified of the discontinuation.

Is Corona an Anheuser-Busch product? ›

The Mexican lager known as “Corona”, is a variation of beer that is brewed all across Mexico by its largest brewer Grupo Modelo, owned by Belgian company Anheuser-Busch InBev, and is exported to over 150 countries worldwide.

Is Michelob an Anheuser-Busch product? ›

Anheuser Busch, the brand that owns Michelob and a large portion of the beers in America was founded in 1852.

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