Sunday, June 23, 2024

Bud Light sells as well as ever at Sav-Mor Spirits in Cambridge’s Alewife area, manager on duty Zaccary Williams says Monday. (Photo: Maya Benjamin)

Backlash to a transgender influencer’s Bud Light sponsorship has led to plunging sales from a nationwide boycott – but not in Cambridge and Somerville liquor stores, where sales of the beer are steady and at least one store manager didn’t even know of the hate campaign underway for more than three months.

Zaccary Williams, the manager on duty Monday at Sav-Mor Spirits in Cambridge’s Alewife area, hadn’t heard of the boycott until asked to comment.

“I am really disappointed that people think yelling at people will make them change how they were meant to be,” Williams said.

Gary Granata, a Sav-Mor worker, said the demand for Bud Light has been “as consistent as can be” at the store. Representatives at seven other liquor stores across Cambridge and Somerville said they hadn’t noticed a decrease in Bud Light sales either.

The problems for Anheuser-Busch InBev, the maker of Bud Light – until the boycott, the bestselling beer in the United States – began April 1, when transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney posted a video drinking Bud Light and informing her 1.8 million Instagram followers of a $15,000 March Madness giveaway. Mulvaney also has 10.7 million followers on TikTok.

In the video, Mulvaney shows a customized Bud Light can with her face on it that she said Bud Light sent to celebrate the first anniversary of her transition. The can went only to Mulvaney, like what the brand does with other influencers and celebrities. Similar cans were never for sale anywhere.

The video, which has 3.7 million views, drew the attention of conservatives. Musician Kid Rock posted a video April 3 of himself in a Maga cap shooting at a pile of Bud Light cases and saying “Fuck Bud Light and fuck Anheuser-Busch.”

Bud Light sales decreased by 17 percent in the week ending April 15, according to NPR, and in addition to the boycott, people have responded with violence. In a TikTok posted on June 29, Mulvaney said she has been followed and ridiculed in public and expressed fear about leaving her house.

“What transpired from that video was more bullying and transphobia than I could have ever imagined,” Mulvaney said. “I patiently waited for things to get better, but, surprise, they haven’t really.”

Months since the sponsorship was posted, Bud Light hasn’t contacted Mulvaney, she said. Two executives at Anheuser-Busch InBev, the maker of Bud Light, went on leave following the sponsorship, and Anheuser-Busch announced that it intends to focus marketing efforts on music and sports, according to the New York Times.

Williams said he is more concerned by the impact on transgender people than the possible loss of sales.

“I’m more worried about the trans people being hurt and neglected,” he said. “People are still going to buy Bud Light.”

A worker named Paul at Liquor Zone in Somerville said he’d encountered a single customer who seemed to comment favorably on the boycott; he told the customer to move along. But he expressed confidence that the boycott wouldn’t affect Bud Light sales in the area.

“We’re in Cambridge and Somerville. It’s not really going to hurt us like it did the Midwest,” Paul said.