Dylan Mulvaney as spokesperson for Nike women and Bud Light cause backlash.

Dylan Mulvaney's agents over at CAA are working hard for their money. Dylan has so many paid promotions that it's hard even to keep track. Dylan shared their skincare routine, a paid partnership with Ole Henriksen who even flew Dylan to Denmark. Then Dylan scored a paid partnership with Bud Light, who even sent them a celebratory beer can with Dylan's face on it. Dylan made several posts about the beer, even having a bubble-bath dancing to the "hold" music, just like in the super bowl ad with Miles teller and his wife.

In another post Dylan claims to not know what "march madness" really means because Dylan doesn't know anything about sports. This is supposedly meant to be funny.

Mulvaney is best known for daily videos each of which begins with Dylan declaring what day it is of "being a girl". Mulvany is a trans-identifying adult male who acted on Broadway before starting the TikTok account in 2020 during the early days of the pandemic which now has millions of followers and is the reason for their influencer stardom.

As soon as those posts went live, a backlash ensued. And the backlash itself was reported in numerous outlets. Yahoo news ran with the opinionated headline "Fragile Transphobes Freak Out Over Dylan Mulvaney Drinking Bud Light" while CBS news said "Bud Light partnership with trans TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney prompts conservative backlash". The backlash was all over social media, with Kid Rock shooting cans of Bud Light while yelling obscenities. Anheuser-Busch defended its decision to enlist trans activist and influencer Dylan Mulvaney as a Bud Light brand influencer.

“Anheuser-Busch works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics and passion points,” a spokesperson for the company told Fox News.
“From time to time, we produce unique commemorative cans for fans and for brand influencers, like Dylan Mulvaney. This commemorative can was a gift to celebrate a personal milestone and is not for sale to the general public.”

As soon as the buzz around the beer promotion was petering out, Dylan showed off another paid promotion, with Nike women. Maureen Callahan in The Daily Mail wrote an opinion piece on this, and said:

"Nike’s decision to hire trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney to advertise sports bras for women is an insult to biological women everywhere — and especially biological female athletes, who are fighting for their own hard-won space at elite and professional levels."

Amelia Strickler also penned an op-ed: Trans TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney's offensive parody makes a total mockery of female athletes like me

For many years, I had two jobs to support my shot putting career. Recently I found a private sponsor through my athletics club Thames Valley Harriers, which enables me to keep competing.

But most female athletes don’t have that advantage. Women get 1 per cent of all sports sponsorship money – and yet to see Nike willing to shell out however many thousands it is to Mulvaney – who, remember, has not fully ‘transitioned’ to female – is utterly demoralising.

Nike likes to harp on about how it champions women: last year it announced an ‘Athletes Think Tank’ to help ‘serve today’s women athletes’, while a 2021 campaign praised mums for being ‘the toughest athletes’.

All well and good – but contrast these warm words with Nike’s actions towards the female athletes it actually sponsored. Women such as Olympic runner Alysia Montano were subject to ‘performance-based reductions’ – amounting to a 70 per cent pay cut – when they were unable to race due to being pregnant or having just given birth. In other words, penalised for being a woman.

Why are the reactions to Dylan's paid promotions so different? Nobody called for boycotting Ole Henriksen, but suddenly music stars are banning the beer from their tour buses while conservative radio hosts are telling people to boycott the brand. And with this Nike Women collaboration, women everywhere are swearing off Nike. What gives?

It's about the abrupt shift in brand positioning. Ole Henriksen has always been about great skin care, so having Dylan demo a nighttime skin care routine isn't off-brand.

Nike women however, used to advertise to women by pepping up their self-esteem. Remember these ads? "My shoulders aren't dainty or proportional to my hips. Some say they are like a man's. I say, leave men out of it. They are mine. I made them in a swimming pool then I went to yoga and made my arms."
In contrast, putting Dylan Mulvany in a sports bra as he prances about flipping his ponytail makes me think the "Just Do It" tagline now is an encouragement to men who want to wear women's intimates. Dylan skips around in the video in a similar manner as the exaggerated stereotypes Always "like a girl" Superbowl ad.

In April of last year, Dylan suggested that Tampax had sponsored them which also caused an uproar since Dylan would never have to use the product, before clarifying that Tampax just sent him some samples. When Dylan was on Ulta's makeup podcast it could have gone either way, as Dylan does wear makeup, but then Dylan spoke about wanting to be a mother, and the backlash was inevitable. Women who are arguably the largest market for products like makeup and sports bras, didn't like Dylan's pantomime of womanhood and so view the brands sponsoring him negatively.

There is another mismatch with Bud Light, an easy-drinking all-American beer. The market for Bud Light is more often than not found in conservative states and blue-collar bars, states like Tennessee, where Kid Rock lives. A state that just tried to pass a law restricting drag show performances to adults only. Country star Travis Tritt lives in Georgia, a state working to ban most gender-affirming procedures and hormone replacement therapies for transgender people under 18. In short, the buyers of Anheuser-Busch products are not in the same market as the one Dylan's fans are in. This normally wouldn't be a problem, as the two targets seldom overlap, but in the land of social media and easily triggered controversies, Dylan's promotions are reaching far further than just his followers. In the Age Of Either-Or, everyone has to have a big loud opinion about pretty much everything, including on who gets a paid promotion with a beer brand. While one can argue that these brands are getting more bang for their bucks as this gathers countless media mentions, it's also a risky game to play attempting to expand market share while offending the core market.

Related adrants:

Lip-stick service to a cause - women athletes are hurting for sponsors.

Can women be in ads without someone yelling foul?

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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Stop the madness's picture

Nike couldn't have timed this much worse. Riley Gaines was held hostage and assaulted by trans activists at San Francisco State University, and #TranswomanAreConMen is trending in Twitter.

Sport's picture

Who would have thunk hiring a divisive person could be divisive?

BoycottNike's picture

Nike went from If you LET ME play to not letting women be their sports bra model.

Robbotman's picture

Dylan as Nike spokesperson is 100% inappropriate, while women athletes are not getting sponsorships. He has no need for a sports bra, though I would hardly call that top a sports bra at all.

Using him for Bud Light was just really really odd. Did Bud Light suddenly forget who their target market is?

Dabitch's picture

Alissa Heinerscheid, vice president of marketing for Bud Light, and the first woman to ever lead the brand explains here reason a bit in this video.

See also Forbes "Bud Light Signals New Era In Marketing"

Robbotman's picture

I think she has severely misjudged the younger audience that she's trying to attract. And as you say, she's insulting the core audience at the same time. The super bowl ad hit the right note, this Dylan thing does not.

Fredro's picture

There is a theory gaining momentum that this is a very clever hoax by DM. Either a piss-take or deliberate peaking of the public.

Anonymous Adgrunt's picture

He acts like a parody, but I don't believe he is trying to peak us. He's showing exactly who he is, a misogynist narcissistic twink whose Broadway career stalled during the pandemic and so he invented the role of a lifetime and is laughing all the way to the bank now.

What's insulting is that a young woman who documented her every day happenings, even in the form of "comedy skits", would not have as many followers and thus not as many sponsors because nobody would rubbernecking her life. Dylan is clever to latch on to what pays, even if he may never go on hormones (he hasn't done anything about his beard), so he'll come out just as he was on the other side after the well dries up.

Anonymous Adgrunt's picture

So refreshing to see people here using correct pronouns.