Bud Light drew relentless criticism in April for a small branded partnership it had with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. In a video posted to Instagram on April 1, Mulvaney said that the beer brand had sent her a can with her face on it to commemorate 365 days of her living as a woman.
Mulvaney’s partnership with Bud Light drew condemnation from several conservative figures, including Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw. Many issued calls for a boycott of the beer and there has been overt scrutiny of an increasing number of companies over their pro-LGBTQ+ marketing initiatives.
However, Brooks bucked the trend with the recent announcement that he will not be banning the beer from his bar, Friends In Low Places Bar & Honky Tonk, when it opens this summer in Nashville’s popular South Broadway District.
“I know this sounds corny, I want it to be the Chick-fil-A of honky-tonks,” he told Billboard last Wednesday. “I want it to be a place you feel safe in, I want it to be a place where you feel like there are manners and people like one another.”
Alluding to the Bud Light backlash, the musician added: “And yes, we’re going to serve every brand of beer. We just are. It’s not our decision to make. Our thing is this, if you [are let] into this house, love one another. If you’re an a**hole, there are plenty of other places on lower Broadway.”
While a faction of MAGA Republicans have vowed to throw out Brooks’ music over his willingness to stock Bud Light, country star Rich—who has stated that he won’t be stocking the beer at his own bar in the city—offered a measured response.
Speaking with Fox News from his Redneck Riviera bar, the Big & Rich musician said: “Garth Brooks has always been the guy that that said, ‘everybody come to my show.’ It’s something that we love about Garth. You know, he makes his music for everybody. And that really is what music is about. You’re making your music for everybody. Beer’s for everybody, too.”
“If Garth is serving Bud Light in his bar, that’s fine. Garth can do that,” he continued. Garth might find out not many people are going to order it. And at the end of the day, you have to put things in your establishment that people are going to purchase if you’re going to run a successful business. So, he might find that out.”
Rich went on to speculate that Brooks’ gesture could be inspired by a desire to bridge the deepening division in the country.
“I think he probably sees the pain and division that’s going on in the country and wants to try to help that,” Rich said. “If I know Garth at all, and I know him a little, that’s probably the impetus behind a statement like that. So, good for him. I wish him the best.”
Rich expressed similar sentiments to Brooks’ bar plans over the weekend, when he wished the star well with his business venture.
“Everyone has the right to market their business however they see fit, and Garth is regarded as one of the greatest marketers of all time in country music,” he wrote. “I’m sure his new place is beautiful, and I wish him well!”
In a pre-edited version of the same tweet, Rich also wrote that the “customer is King at the end of the day and trust me, they WILL let you know right out of the gate. If they wanna chug some Bud Light at Garth’s bar? Then they will! If they don’t? They won’t! It ain’t complicated.”
Rich shared his reasons for ditching Bud Light from his bar’s menu during an appearance on the now-defunct Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight back in April.
“The customers decide. Customers are king,” Rich said at the time. “I own a bar in downtown Nashville. Our number one selling beer up until a few days ago was what? Bud Light.
“We got cases and cases and cases of it sitting back there. But in the past several days you’re hard-pressed to find anyone ordering one. So as a business owner, I go, hey if you aren’t ordering it, we got to put something else in here. At the end of the day, that’s capitalism. That’s how it works.”
In recent months, the number of large U.S. brands being targeted with boycott calls has grown dramatically, as a host of different companies unveil products supporting Pride Month, which takes place every June. Companies supporting the LGBTQ+ community outside of Pride Month have also faced backlash from conservatives.
Brands including Target, Nike, Adidas and Barstool Sports have faced a furor for LGBTQ-inclusive marketing at a time when anti-transgender sentiment appears to be growing in the United States, with bills targeting transgender people sweeping through Republican state legislatures.
Published: 2023-06-12 12:17:27