Following up on his oversight inquiry into details how Anheuser-Busch marketed beer to minors through its partnership with social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney, U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) this week sent a letter to Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV CEO Michel Doukeris demanding that the company direct its subsidiary to comply with the investigation Sen. Cruz opened on May 17.
Sen. Cruz wrote:
“Nearly three months have passed since I requested documents from Mr. Whitworth in my capacity as Ranking Member of the Commerce Committee, and Anheuser-Busch has yet to provide the Committee with a single document. Anheuser-Busch’s failure to cooperate and blatant disregard for U.S. congressional oversight is unacceptable. Given your broader responsibility for the Anheuser-Busch InBev portfolio of more than 500 brands, I trust you share my sincere concern with the possibility that Anheuser-Busch is marketing alcohol to children and will direct Anheuser-Busch to cooperate immediately with the Commerce Committee’s investigation. The level of cooperation the Committee receives will bear significantly on my assessment of whether this is part of a broader problem across the Anheuser-Busch InBev product line and whether changes to federal law are necessary to prohibit Anheuser-Busch InBev from marketing beer to children.”
Last month, Sen. Cruz applauded an opinion from Paul Summers—a former state appeals court judge and attorney general of Tennessee—who found that Bud Light’s sponsorship of Dylan Mulvaney violated the beer industry’s code prohibiting the marketing of alcohol to underage individuals. Judge Summers’ opinion marked the first time a member of the three-person Code Compliance Review Board (CCRB) at the Beer Institute has ever found a brewer to have violated industry code.
Sen. Cruz continues:
“My May 17th letter was initially met with a roughly page-long unsigned response from Anheuser-Busch failing to provide any documents. In subsequent communications with the Committee, counsel to Anheuser-Busch refused to provide any documents, citing the then-ongoing CCRB review […]”
“Moreover, even now that the CCRB has completed its review, Anheuser-Busch persists in refusing to provide the requested documents, revealing plainly that the ongoing CCRB review was never the real reason for Anheuser-Busch’s refusal to cooperate. Anheuser-Busch is now suggesting that CCRB review was sufficient, and that it need not cooperate with congressional document requests. This position is untenable; Anheuser-Busch does not decide whether and when a congressional investigation is concluded.”
“This position is also troubling given the factual inaccuracies in the CCRB majority opinion. The Board left lingering questions about the marketing partnership with Mulvaney and advanced a misleading narrative about the audience data reviewed by the brewer. We still do not know, for example, exactly when Bud Light hired Mulvaney. The CCRB majority’s opinion also includes numerous inaccuracies material to its decision. For example, the Board was under the bewildering misapprehension that Anheuser-Busch “hired” CreatorIQ to prepare an “audience composition study” and that CreatorIQ “determined that 80.35 percent of Mulvaney’s Instagram audience was 21 years of age or older.” The truth is that Anheuser-Busch itself extracted Mulvaney’s Instagram age ranges from existing Instagram data reposited on the CreatorIQ platform and then itself applied what it calls the “standard methodology” to guess what percent of the 18–24 category was above the legal drinking age. CreatorIQ had no role, whatsoever, in assessing Mulvaney’s audience demographics prior to the placement of the Bud Light ads, a fact CreatorIQ confirmed to the Committee. It simply re-presented audience data that was already available to Mulvaney through Instagram.”
Sen. Cruz requested that Mr. Doukeris instruct Anheuser-Busch to immediately comply with this investigation and May 17th document request by no later than August 29, 2023.
The full text of this letter is available HERE.