LGBTQ beer ads are old hat — despite new troubles for Bud Light

After more than 20 years at the top of the beer charts, Bud Light retail sales in the United States have taken a dive at the same time the brand is facing criticism over featuring a social media star who is transgender in an advertisement.

“This is sort of uncharted waters for a brand like that when it comes to seven weeks of sharp declines of that magnitude,’ said Dave Williams, vice-president of analytics for Bump Williams Consulting, which focuses on the alcoholic beverage industry. 

The brand has faced negative reaction in the United States since an early April video where transgender TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney promoted the brand and held up personalized commemorative cans featuring her face. Some politicians and celebrities in the United States reacted angrily to beer brand featuring a transgender spokesperson.

While it’s impossible to directly connect Bud Light’s drop in sales to a single Instagram video highlighting a trans spokesperson, Williams said that since April, sales have been declining for Bud Light while other brands have gained traction. The data are not publicly available.

A white man with blond hair sits in an office.
Beer industry analyst Dave Williams thinks the culture war over trans inclusion in a beer ad is harmful to the industry as a whole. (CBC)

Williams’s firm analyzed data from Nielsen IQ and found dollar sales of Bud Light at U.S. retail outlets had dropped by more than 24 per cent in the week ending June 3, compared to the year before. Mexican lager Modelo Especial took over the top spot from Bud Light.

“I certainly see a correlation between, you know, some of the backlash that we saw online … with the recent accelerated declines in sales,” said Williams.

Williams and other industry watchers are characterizing the fall in sales as likely tied to a conservative backlash — and ensuing

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