First, it was Hershey’s, then it was Bud Light, and now, Jack Daniel’s is the latest brand this year to be facing a boycott over claims the company has “gone woke.”
Social media users have taken offense to the whiskey brewer’s “small town, big pride” campaign in which it teamed up with drag queens from Ru Paul’s Drag Race—despite the campaign being nearly two years old.
The row over LGBTQ+ brand ambassadors is symbolic of a wider debate about drag shows and their exposure to children. Critics have expressed concerns over Drag Queen Story Hour, readings for children by drag performers at libraries. Tennessee, Jack Daniel’s home state, was the first to pass a drag show ban in the presence of children over concerns about their sexualized content. The law has since been temporarily blocked by a federal judge.
Jack Daniels said in June 2021 that it had teamed up with three drag queens from the hit TV show to produce a series of videos called Drag Queen Summer Glamp, which was released during pride month. It features the participants completing challenges around the company’s Lynchburg, Tennessee, distillery.
The whiskey makers said at the time that it was “a bold new experience—for both the queens and their hosts,” while Lauren Richmond, then-brand manager for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, noted the campaign “reaffirms our commitment to the LGBTQ+ community” despite being an “unexpected partnership.”
“Jack Daniel’s gets drag culture—which is all about celebrating individuality and inviting others to accept you as you are,” Trinity the Tuck, one of the drag queens involved in the campaign, said in a statement.
“This is how Pride should be celebrated: with friends—new and old—in a place you would never expect,” said Manila Luzon, another participant.