Another Anheuser-Busch Brand Taking A Beating With Harley-Davidson Tie-In

(Editor’s note – May 26, 20023: An incredibly high number of passionate comments in response to this news story that has made reviewing and approving them difficult to manage, and because the website commonly seeks to present motorcycle stories in a balanced manner without a taking political position in most cases, RIDE-CT has opted to shut down and remove all comments regarding this post. Yes, the story has social media comments relating to the backlash against Budweiser and Harley-Davidson, as was necessary to report, but the website doesn’t desire to engage in back and forth vitriol and doesn’t see any value in doing do so. This decision to close comments was made from both a practical standpoint and in a belief that the commenting was perhaps getting out of hand. Feel free to comment on RIDE-CT’s Facebook page.)

Another Anheuser-Busch brand is taking a beating from consumers. This time it’s Budweiser that’s getting pilloried for new limited-edition cans that feature Harley-Davidson’s bar and shield emblem. The motorcycle manufacturer is taking a bit of heat, too, on social media.

A 30-second commercial showing off the cans debuted Friday on Budweiser’s Facebook page. The spot mixes motorcycles and brew. “The greatest legacies are built with grit and resilience one detail at a time,” says the voiceover announcer, proclaiming that the beer’s “for those who give everything to their craft.”

Images from Budweiser’s Facebook page

At any other time, the cans might be flying off of shelves. Instead, in the wake of the recent Bud Light marketing fiasco precipitated by the brand’s use of transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney to attempt to expand the customer base, Bud is now facing backlash as well.

Thousands of commenters on Facebook have drilled Anheuser-Busch for the new corporate collaboration…

“Nice try Budweiser. But the train has left the station. And taken your customers with it,” wrote Dennis Crow.

“Seriously? You think marketing ‘Limited Edition’ cans is going to change peoples (sic) minds?” asked Terry Armstrong Patterson.

“Pathetic attempt at pandering instead of issuing an actual apology. Not going to work,” wrote Larry Mccurley.

“Do they really think appealing to their former customers now is going to bring back their old customer base,” asked Jim Ortisi.

One-off Bud Light can

The flap involving Bud Light began in early April when Bud Light sent Mulvaney some of its product as part of a paid sponsorship deal, including one can that had Mulvaney’s image on it. She then posted a video of herself dressed like Holly Golightly from the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” She touted Bud Light and revealed the one-off can.

Very quickly, conservatives went berserk and voiced their anti-trans sentiments. Rock star Kid Rock shot up some cans of Bud Light. Country singer Travis Tritt banned the brand from his tour. And countless Bud Light drinkers began boycotting and finding other brands to drink.

Screenshot from video made by Dylan Mulvaney

Bud Light sales have since plummeted by 25 percent, and the blowback is now spreading to all Anheuser-Busch products. Recent Budweiser sales are down 15 percent.

Meanwhile, with the debut of the new commercial, social media commenters have also targeted Harley-Davidson for the tie-in, which no doubt was struck before the Bud Light controversy…

“Harley Davidson wants to go the way of budweiser,” wrote Dee Cocjeran.

“I’ll have to sell my Harley now,” wrote Juan Nieto.

“If I had a Harley, I’d sell it,” wrote Kenn McCuen.

The question now is whether Belgium-based parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev can revive its sagging fortunes? Coming out with new cans and new marketing doesn’t let the controversy blow over. And what about Harley-Davidson? Might the tie-in with Bud be more hurtful than helpful?

As for the 26-year-old Mulvaney, she resurfaced Tuesday pitching a hair product called K18 on her Instagram page. It’s a molecular repair hair oil. “Wow, no more frizz or flyaways,” she enthuses.

Dylan Mulvaney promoting K18

About Bud Wilkinson

Bud Wilkinson writes the "RIDE-CT" motorcycle column and the "My Ride" classic car feature in the "Republican-American" newspaper in Waterbury, CT. A graduate of Vermont Academy, he received a B.A. degree journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1975. He is the recipient of a Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award in 1992 and a 1991-92 regional Emmy Award for commentary. He currently rides a 1987 BMW R 80 RT and a 2014 Triumph Bonneville and drives a 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata and 2008 Ford Ranger pickup.