Sens. Cruz, Blackburn Open and Call for Probe of Bud Light Potentially Marketing to Underage Individuals Through Partnership with Dylan Mulvaney
May 17, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, today opened an investigation into and called on the beer industry’s self-regulatory body—the Beer Institute—to investigate whether Anheuser-Busch’s partnership with influencer Dylan Mulvaney violates the Beer Institute’s guidelines prohibiting marketing to underage individuals. The letter outlines evidence showing that Dylan Mulvaney’s audience skews younger than the legal drinking age and that Mulvaney’s social media content appeals to young viewers. The letter also calls on Anheuser-Busch to sever its relationship with Dylan Mulvaney.
In a letter to Brendan Whitworth, CEO of Anheuser-Busch and Chairman of the Beer Institute, Sens. Cruz and Blackburn write:
“We are writing to you today in both your capacity as the United States Chief Executive Officer of the Anheuser-Busch Companies (“Anheuser-Busch” or “your company”) and as the Chairman and Senior Director of the Beer Institute, the beer industry’s self-regulatory body with authority over the advertising of beer. Our requests are two-fold.
“First, we write to ask that the Beer Institute’s Code Compliance Review Board open an investigation to review Anheuser-Busch’s recent and ongoing marketing partnership with Dylan Mulvaney. The Beer Institute must examine whether your company violated the Beer Institute’s Advertising/Marketing Code and Buying Guidelines prohibiting marketing to individuals younger than the legal drinking age.
“The evidence detailed below 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. 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.
“Second, we believe that Anheuser-Busch’s clear failure to exercise appropriate due diligence when selecting online influencers for its marketing efforts warrants detailed oversight by Congress. To that end, this letter includes a series of document requests that will help clarify how Anheuser-Busch vets its partnerships and how Anheuser-Busch failed in assessing the propriety of a partnership with Dylan Mulvaney.”
The letter highlights that Dylan Mulvaney’s audience skews predominantly towards young people below the drinking age, providing a number of examples in support:
As you and your Anheuser-Busch colleagues are aware, Dylan Mulvaney is a prominent social media influencer with 1.8 million followers on Instagram and 10.8 million followers on TikTok. As Mulvaney’s talent agency CAA notes, he is infamous for the “series titled ‘Days of Girlhood’” which “received over 750 million views in less than 100 days.” (emphasis added) Mulvaney’s “Days of Girlhood” series should have been the first red flag to Anheuser-Busch that it was entering into a partnership with an individual whose audience skews impermissibly below the Beer Institute’s proscribed guidelines.
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. Examples include:
- Dylan Mulvaney lip-syncing “I am Eloise, I am six” while dressed as a small child. This video gathered 7.1 million views. It aired thirteen days before the Bud Light partnership.
- Dylan Mulvaney during “Day 100 of being a girl” “at the mall” giving away merchandise and cash to teenage girls, at least one of whom was still in braces. That video garnered over 11 million views.
The Senators also request a number of documents from both Anheuser-Busch related to the partnership including communications, scripts of social media content, solicitations for content, and documents relating to Anheuser-Busch’s corporate policy for advertising on social media platforms.
The full text of the letter is available HERE.