In a new 13-page memo to the beer industry’s self-regulatory body, U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) details how Bud Light’s sponsorship of Dylan Mulvaney violated industry standards that prohibit marketing to underage individuals. The memo, which was submitted on Wednesday to the Beer Institute’s Code Compliance Review Board (CCRB), reveals new evidence and examples of how Mulvaney’s persona is meant to appeal to minors.
A three-panel board at the CCRB will now conduct an official review of Anheuser-Busch’s decision to sponsor the controversial figure.
The memo also notes that Anheuser-Busch has refused to comply with congressional requests for documents made in Sen. Cruz’s May 17thoversight letter to the company.
Summary of findings:
In his May 17th letter, Sen. Cruz outlined evidence showing that Dylan Mulvaney’s audience skews younger than the legal drinking age and that Mulvaney’s social media content appeals to young viewers. The memo submitted to the CCRB expands upon his initial letter and requests.
Sen. Cruz presents several new facts. Contradicting Anheuser-Busch’s claim that its partnership with Mulvaney consisted of “one can, one influencer, one post and not a campaign,” Sen. Cruz’s memo cites a February 11th video that Mulvaney posted to Instagram with the caption #budlightpartner. This earlier post significantly predates the April 1st Instagram post in which Mulvaney reportedly inaugurated his partnership with Bud Light.
In addition, the memo explains that Mulvaney and Bud Light violated Instagram policies on “age gating.” Instagram requires creators to block all U.S. users under the age of 21 from viewing branded content promoting or referencing alcohol, but the post remained visible on Mulvaney’s page in clear violation of the site’s policy.
Lastly, the memo details a myriad of examples proving that Mulvaney’s social media presence is tailored toward an underage audience. According to Mulvaney, “I didn’t have that open and vulnerable creator, or role model growing up… Four-year-old, eight-year-old, 15-year-old Dylan, they didn’t have a ‘me’ to go on TikTok… But I want to be that for my younger self.” Mulvaney further said, “I actually think it’s very special that parents are allowing their kids to follow me, so I want to maintain that relationship as much as I can.”
This evidence, among other details, points to the conclusion that the partnership violated the Beer Institute’s Ad Code because it involved an entertainer or celebrity with “special attractiveness” to minors. The evidence also suggests that less than 73.6% of the expected audience for the posts was of legal drinking age. As the memo states:
“Anheuser-Busch stated in its May 19th letter that “[a]t the time of the engagement, available data indicated that Mulvaney’s Instagram audience complied with the Beer Institute’s standards.” However, the brewer has refused to provide Sens. Cruz and Blackburn with any data to support this claim. Anheuser-Busch has refused to comply with the document requests outlined in the senators’ May 17th letter, including the request for any material “showing the age demographics of Dylan Mulvaney’s audience, including but not limited to the platforms of Instagram and TikTok.” Anheuser-Busch also failed to specify when its engagement with Mulvaney began—a notable omission given the now-discovered February 11th post […]
“Neither of the Mulvaney-Bud Light posts in question included a “paid partnership” label for branded content, in violation of Instagram rules. And, as a result, Mulvaney and Anheuser-Busch might not have access to the granular data they otherwise would have, especially if the posts in question had been run as “partnership ads,” which would have allowed the creator and business to target users under the age of 21. Instead, Mulvaney’s Instagram account may currently only show Instagram Insights audience demographics for the last 90 days—well after the date of the engagement.”
Instagram’s lack of sufficient age verification measures means that official metrics may not account for young people who lied about their age when making an Instagram account; the data could overstate the percentage of viewers above the legal drinking age. Instagram also groups persons between the ages of 18 and 24 into a single demographic category, which elides the percentage of viewers who are above and below the legal drinking age of 21.
The full memo is available HERE.