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Chicago LGBTQ bars drop Anheuser-Busch products after company distances itself from Dylan Mulvaney

Chicago LGBTQ+ bars drop Anheuser-Busch products over transgender influencer controevrsy
Chicago LGBTQ+ bars drop Anheuser-Busch products over transgender influencer controevrsy 02:57

CHICAGO (CBS) -- For weeks, Anheuser-Busch InBev has faced a backlash from people who say they are offended by a recent social media campaign for Bud Light starring transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Sales of the beer dropped 20 percent in one week.

But after Anheuser-Busch InBev executives tried to distance themselves from the marketing campaign, members of the LGBTQ+ community said they too are upset with the company.

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported, the weather was perfect Friday night – and a lot of people were outside on the patio at The SoFo Tap, at 4923 N. Clark St. in Andersonville. But none of them were drinking Bud Light, Budweiser, or Goose Island 312.

2Bears Tavern Group – which owns The SoFo Tap, Meeting House Tavern a block north at 5025 N. Clark St., 2Bears Tavern at 1140 W. Wilson Ave. in Uptown, and Jackhammer at 6406 N. Clark St. in Rogers Park – has taken a stand at all four of those bars. They have pulled all Anheuser-Busch InBev products from the menu.

At The SoFo Tap, the fridge where Bud Light and Busch Light cans once would have been is now empty. The Goose Island 312 tap was thrown out this week.

"It was absolutely an easy decision," said Mark Robertson, co-owner of 2Bears Tavern Group. "They kept re-doubling their efforts to bow down to those who were spewing hate."

Robertson made the decision to throw out all Anheuser Busch InBev products after he says the beer giant distanced itself from transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Last month, Mulvaney posted an ad for Bud Light on Instagram, promoting a sweepstakes contest and sharing custom beer cans the company had given her with her face on them. Companies often partner with social media influencers, who are paid to share ads with their large followings. 

The ad prompted some celebrities, including Kid Rock – who shared a video of himself shooting cases of Bud Light – to urge others to boycott the beer. 

The 26-year-old Mulvaney, who has 10.8 million followers on TikTok and 1.8 million on Instagram, received hateful comments online. The backlash prompted the beer's parent company, Anheuser-Busch, to issue a statement, with chief executive officer Brendan Whitworth saying they "never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people."

As recently as Thursday, during the company earnings call, a top executive said, "We need to clarify the facts that this was one can, one influencer, one post and not a campaign,"

"What we are saying is that you cannot erase our community - you cannot put part of our community, particularly the 'T,' in danger - and think we're going to continue to give you our money," Robertson said. "So we removed the products."

Sidetrack, at 3349 N. Halsted St. in the Northalsted district, also made the decision to ditch Anheuser-Busch products.

"I think that we should applaud them - along with other bars like Sidetrack, who has also pulled the product, and more to come," said SoFo Tap customer Tico Valle.

"Anytime you give hate a platform, you're giving them credence that what they're saying is the correct answer," added Robertson.

Next month is the Pride Parade, and the owner of The SoFo Tap pointed out that Bud Light has been a major sponsor of the event in years past. He says he hopes organizers will be mindful as they finalize sponsorships for this year's pride festivities.

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