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Why Inclusive Marketing Will Outlast Bud Light’s Backlash

Transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney has broken her silence after her video promoting Bud Light sparked a weeks-long backlash from conservatives, including calls for a boycott by musicians Travis Tritt and Kid Rock.

anheuser buschAs The Wall Street Journal reports, in a TikTok video shared with her 10.8 million followers, Mulvaney addressed the uproar that led beermaker Anheuser-Busch Inbev to place two marketing executives on leave. Without mentioning the brand directly, Mulvaney said, “Dehumanization has never fixed anything in history ever.”

Marketing experts told CBS News that despite Bud Light’s flubbed efforts, inclusive marketing isn’t going anywhere because it’s just smart business. Sarah Reynolds, chief marketing officer for the human resources platform HiBob, who identifies as queer, told the news outlet that within a few years the current debate about Mulvaney and Bud Light will seem as embarrassing as previous outcry over ads showing interracial couples.

A 2021 Gallup poll found that 21% of Gen Zers identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. According to the same poll, younger consumers are the likeliest of all age cohorts to demand social stances and diversity initiatives from their brands.

Georgia College and State University professor Joanna Schwartz, who teaches an LGBTQ+ marketing class, told CBS News that brands may target their outreach to transgender consumers more carefully in the wake of the Bud Light fracas.

Clark University professor Thomas Murphy, who teaches branding, says companies should feature real people, such as employees, in ads spotlighting inclusivity. Another marketing professor, Manveer Mann, of the Feliciano School of Business at Montclair State University, noted that Anheuser-Busch should have had a plan in place in anticipation of backlash.

Americus Reed, a professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, told The New York Times that brands such as Ben & Jerry’s can differentiate themselves by showing that they stand for social causes such as racial justice and LGBTQ rights.

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