Bud Light and its parent company Anheuser-Busch have continued to face an array of scrutiny following the partnership with Dylan Mulvaney, and some experts have seen the company’s response as a failure.
On April 1, Mulvaney, a transgender influencer and activist, posted a video on Instagram showcasing a custom Bud Light can that she received to promote her year’s transition to becoming a woman. A few days later, a spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch told Newsweek that the company “works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics.”
The company then stayed silent for several days and Bud Light CEO Brendan Whitworth said in a statement that the beer brand “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”
The responses from Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light did not thwart criticism or calls to boycott, and experts told Newsweek that responding earlier on in the ongoing controversy may have been beneficial.
Brad Horn, a Professor of Practice, Public Relations at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications told Newsweek that “from a crisis response [standpoint], timeliness matters.”
“The first instance of when this became an issue, meaning the first instance you know this is more than just some level of customer dissatisfaction…there should have been a brought in response that was timely and it supported the values for which the organization stood for,” Horn told Newsweek. “The response clearly should have said, ‘We believe that Bud Light is a product to be enjoyed by all and so we stand by our decision to empower influencers from every area of life to become as inclusive and diverse as we can.'”