Bud Light memes

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How the Bud Light boycott became a meme bonanza

Some were funny. Most were transphobic.

 

Tricia Crimmins

Tech

Posted on Jan 26, 2024   Updated on Feb 5, 2024, 9:56 am CST

Before partnering with transgender TikToker Dylan Mulvaney, Bud Light was just another light beer. 

But after running social media ads with Mulvaney in April 2023, right-wingers and anti-trans beer drinkers alike boycotted the brand in protest of its woke marketing.

The boycott lasted for months and became the subject of many memes, both from those in support of Mulvaney and those against her.

The Dylan Mulvaney Bud Light Ads

On Feb. 11, 2023, Dylan Mulvaney announced her partnership with Bud Light on TikTok by duetting a Bud Light ad that featured Miles Teller. Mulvaney is seen dancing in a bubble bath with cans of Bud Light.

“Only @BudLight could have a commercial so catchy it makes you wanna dance in the tub!” Mulvaney captioned her video alongside the hashtag #BudLightPartner.

That went unnoticed, but Mulvaney’s next ad didn’t: On April 1, Mulvaney posted an ad of her drinking Bud Light while telling viewers that Bud Light had sent her a can of beer with her face on it. She added that viewers should check out her Instagram story to see how they can enjoy March Madness with Bud Light. 

This ad led to a mass boycott of the beer brand.

The Boycott

As Mulvaney is transgender, the right considered Bud Light’s partnership with her a signal that Anhueser-Busch, the company that owns Bud Light, was going “woke.”

Woke’s connotation depends on who’s using the word: it originated from African American Vernacular English to mean being aware of discrimination and prejudice, but right-wingers use the word to express their disdain over the existence of trans people and the LGBTQ community as well as diversity of any kind.

And when something is “woke,” the right tends to fight against it, like its crusades against M&Ms and Grand Theft Auto.

Thus began the boycott of Bud Light…

“I’m boycotting Bud light and all Budweiser beers,” a boycotter tweeted in April 2023. “I don’t buy anything from woke BS companies like yours.”

…which continued into the summer…

“BREAKING: Anheuser-Busch CEO won’t rule out Bud Light working with Dylan Mulvaney in the future,” Ryan Fournier, the founder of Students4Trump, tweeted in June 2023. “RT if you will continue to boycott!”

…and still rages on for some, despite prominent conservative figures like UFC CEO Dana White—who declared that Bud Light was the least woke beer on the market—partnering with the brand.

“Bud Light has STILL not apologized for promoting Dylan Mulvaney & the transgender ideology,” conservative commentator Liz Wheeler tweeted last month. “Until Bud Light apologizes, I boycott. Period.”

Mulvaney said in June that Bud Light did not provide her with any support throughout the public backlash she received—and didn’t even contact her.

Bud Light memes

A majority of Bud Light memes regarding its partnership with Dylan Mulvaney focused on the idea that drinking the beer would make you gay or transgender, like a meme that said before drinking Bud Light, you look like Caitlyn Jenner when she won a gold medal during the 1976 Olympic games; after, you look at Jenner post-transition.

Plus, many of the memes were transphobic and denigrating to Mulvaney, like one that parodied Mulvaney’s Days of Girlhood series in which she shared updates about her transition with her TikTok followers, or another that ridiculed her genitalia.

“Bud Light: For Real Women Who Tuck And Chop Their Junk,” the meme said.

Other memes focused on the results of the boycott: Bud Light’s sales last spring and summer dropped by more than 10% compared to its sales from the same time period in 2022.

“Bud Light: Now 50% off!” a meme that shows cans of the beer on sale next to a photo of Mulvaney’s Bud Light ad said. “She did that!”

Memes making fun of the boycott cropped up, too. Many ridiculed the right for drinking Bud Light in the first place, and others roasted boycotters for getting all worked up.

“You boycott Bud Light because you are a transphobic bigot,” a meme said. “I boycott Bud Light because it tastes like shit.” 

Kid Rock, who posted a video of himself shooting cans of Bud Light, was also the subject of many memes making fun of the boycott.

“Names latest tour the ‘No Snowflakes Tour,’” a meme said alongside a photo of Kid Rock. “Gets emotional when Bud Light went woke.”

In the end, Mulvaney survived the backlash and Bud Light, the boycott—though not without some major changes to its leadership team. 

As for Kid Rock, he seems to have never really stopped drinking Bud Light.

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*First Published: Jan 26, 2024, 8:00 am CST