As one of the nation’s top beer companies faces backlash for partnering with a TikTok influencer who identifies as transgender, South Dakota’s local distributor is distancing itself from the controversy.
Beal Distributing owner Arch Beal — a Republican serving in the state Legislature — told The Dakota Scout this week that Anheuser-Busch’s marketing decisions are made by corporate headquarters and have nothing to do with local distributors.
“As far as I’m concerned, I just want people to know from our perspective here, that’s not our call,” the Sioux Falls senator said.
Beal’s comments come in response to a brand deal between Anheuser-Busch and transgender actor Dylan Mulvaney, who’s become a TikTok star since publicly transitioning their gender identity from a man to a transgender woman. The partnership has brought criticism from outspoken conservatives, including music entertainer Kid Rock.
Anheuser-Busch is defending its partnership with Mulvaney.
“Anheuser-Busch works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics,” a statement issued by the company said. “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.”
South Dakota Budweiser distributor dealing with blowback
In South Dakota, Beal is also dealing with the blowback. However, it’s his hope people can understand that marketing decisions by Anheuser-Busch are out of his hands. And while his company has aided local bars in the past to get promotional LGBTQ-themed cans and bottles, they’ve never been widely distributed to stores in Beal Distributing’s distribution area.
That’s because, he said, Beal Distributing tries to avoid involving itself in social and political issues.
“I’m gonna stay so far out of that because you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” Beal said. “I don’t like that kind of controversy.
“I’m trying to make people happy, that’s one thing beer guys do,” he added. “But it’s damn tough to make everybody happy in this world.”
As a state senator, Beal supported legislation this year that restricts medical treatments to minors for the purpose of identifying differently from their biological sex. That measure will become law July 1 after Gov. Kristi Noem signed the legislation.
The measure passed 30-4 in the Senate. South Dakota is one of several red states that has moved this year to restrict gender transitioning treatments for minors.