- The Washington Times - Friday, May 19, 2023

As if Bud Light didn’t have enough problems, now Senate Republicans are looking into whether the brand is marketing to underage consumers.

Republican Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Ted Cruz of Texas opened an investigation into whether Anheuser-Busch, Bud Light’s parent company, violated Beer Institute guidelines against underage advertising based on its partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

The senators said the evidence “overwhelmingly shows that Dylan Mulvaney’s audience skews significantly younger than the legal drinking age and violates the Beer Institute’s Advertising/Marketing Code and Buying Guidelines.”

The Republicans called on the Beer Institute, the industry’s self-regulatory body, to investigate whether Anheuser-Busch violated the institute’s guidelines. They also urged Anheuser-Busch to cancel its partnership with the influencer.

“We would urge you, in your capacity at Anheuser-Busch, to avoid a lengthy investigation by the Beer Institute by instead having Anheuser-Busch publicly sever its relationship with Dylan Mulvaney, publicly apologize to the American people for marketing alcoholic beverages to minors, and direct Dylan Mulvaney to remove any Anheuser-Busch content from his social media platforms,” the senators said in a joint letter to Anheuser-Busch and the Beer Institute.

They noted that the influencer, who has 1.8 million followers on Instagram and 10.8 million followers on TikTok, is most famous for the “365 Days of Girlhood” series.

“The use of the phrase ‘Girlhood’ was not a slip of the tongue but rather emblematic of a series of Mulvaney’s online content that was specifically used to target, market to, and attract an audience of young people who are well below the legal drinking age in the United States,” the senators said.

They cited videos in which Dylan Mulvaney lip-syncs “I am Eloise, I am 6” while dressed as a child, and gives away merchandise and cash to teenage girls at a mall. The legal drinking age nationwide is 21.

The Senators also asked for corporate communications from Anheuser-Busch as well as “scripts of social media content, solicitations for content, and documents relating to Anheuser-Busch’s corporate policy for advertising on social media platforms.”

Bud Light sales have dipped amid calls to boycott the brand over its partnership with the 26-year-old Dylan Mulvaney, a male-born comedian and social-media personality who identifies as female.

Critics have accused Dylan Mulvaney of mocking girls and women by carrying out “a caricature of what it means to be a woman,” as Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance put it, while the influencer has accused naysayers of “dehumanization” and being “cruel.”

In a statement, Beer Institute President and CEO Brian Crawford had no comment on whether the group would investigate, but said that its marketing and advertising code “reflects the beer industry’s commitment to responsibility.”

“Beer advertising materials are created for and directed to adult consumers of legal drinking age, and brewers follow the strictest standards in the beverage alcohol industry in marketing their products,” Mr. Crawford said. “Brewers are proud of this commitment to responsibility and the FTC has repeatedly confirmed the effectiveness of the Beer Institute Advertising and Marketing Code following comprehensive reviews of the alcohol industry’s guidelines, processes, and advertising in 1999, 2003, 2008, and most recently 2014.”

The Washington Times has contacted Anheuser-Busch for comment.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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