With the recent wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the U.S., Pride Month has become yet another front in the ongoing culture wars. While some brands have used the opportunity to show support in genuine, tangible and actionable ways, others ... have taken a different tack.
A prime example is the Bud Light controversy that transpired before Pride Month even began. After transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney shared a custom beer can sent to her by the brand with her face on it, the beer giant found itself on the receiving end of a backlash from some conservatives. Parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev's response to the controversy effectively told the LGBTQ+ community that the company's support is conditional and tied to its bottom line.
“Budweiser stated that it never wanted to be part of a ‘discussion that divides people’ and suspended its marketing executives,” said Ren Bowman, senior marketing and multimedia producer at The Digital Voice. “Their lack of allyship, as well as throwing Dylan into a fray of hatred, makes this campaign, or lack thereof, the biggest corporate Pride Month embarrassment of the decade.”
The brand also has garnered criticism from LGBTQ+ advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign, which denounced the brand’s decisions. “In this moment, it is absolutely critical for Anheuser-Busch to stand in solidarity with Dylan and the trans community,” Jay Brown, senior VP at the Human Rights Campaign wrote. “However, when faced with anti-LGBTQ+ and transphobic criticism, Anheuser-Busch’s actions demonstrate a profound lack of fortitude in upholding its values of diversity, equity, and inclusion to employees, customers, shareholders and the LGBTQ+ community.”