Anheuser-Busch is looking to move on from the backlash.
More than two months after trans activist Dylan Mulvaney shared a sponsored Instagram post with a can of Bud Light, the brewing company is addressing the fallout—which included a boycott from conservative customers and a loss in sales as well as transphobic comments aimed at the TikToker.
"It's been a challenging few weeks and I think the conversation surrounding Bud Light has moved away from beer and the conversation has become divisive and Bud Light really doesn't belong there," Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth told CBS Mornings in an interview that aired June 28. "Bud Light should be all about bringing people together."
In her April post, Mulvaney revealed Anheuser-Busch had sent her a Bud Light can bearing an image of her face to celebrate the first anniversary of her transition.
Whitworth reiterated, this in his interview, noting, "Just to be clear, it was a gift, and it was one can. But for us, as we look to the future and we look to moving forward, we have to understand the impact that it's had."
He pointed to the toll the controversy had taken on various members of the Bud Light community—from Anheuser-Busch employees to retailers selling the beer.
"One thing that I'd love to make extremely clear," he continued, "is that impact is my responsibility, and as the CEO, everything we do here, I'm accountable for."
When asked if he would, in retrospect, send Dylan the Bud Light can, Whitworth didn't outright answer. "There's a big social conversation taking place right now and big brands are right in the middle of it," he explained. "For us, what we need to understand is, deeply understand and appreciate, is the consumer and what they want, what they care about and what they expect from big brands."
Whitworth said financial assistance was sent to wholesalers affected by the decline and that the company was also "announcing investment for our front-line employees and their employment, adding, "I think it's the impact, honestly on the employees that weighs most on me."
Whitworth had initially addressed the backlash over Dylan's video two weeks after it started. In mid-April Whitworth said in a statement on social media, saying, "We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer."
This response drew criticism from many members of the LGBTQ+ community.
However, after he was asked on CBS Mornings if sending the can to Dylan was a mistake, Whitworth affirmed the company's support of the LGBTQ+ community.
"Bud Light has supported LGBTQ since 1998, so that's 25 years," he said. "As we've said from the beginning, we'll continue to support the communities and organizations that we've supported for decades. But as we move forward, we want to focus on what we do best, which is brewing great beer for everyone, listening to our consumers, being humble in listening to them, making sure we do right by our employees, take care and support our partners and ultimately, make an impact in the communities that we serve."