Social media circa 2023 in a nutshell: never read the comments. People who disdain cancel culture have no problem trying to get brands or people canceled. And every innocuous post is going to turn into a heated discussion (with “woke” used pejoratively).
Earlier this week, Michter’s, a popular and sought-after bourbon brand, posted a pic of four whiskey bottles backed by a rainbow flag on its Instagram account. “We’re celebrating our LGBTQ+ family, friends, team members, and fans around the world. Happy #Pride month from the Michter’s team!” they wrote.
It’s Pride Month. Plenty of brands — alcohol or not — have posted similar messages. I’m sure several of those brands posted their merch in front of, say, a tree for Earth Day or an American flag for Memorial Day, along with some sort of vaguely worded message that fit alongside the holiday or observance.
Sadly, while much of the drinks industry and its fanbase seems to have no problem embracing a diverse group of like-minded imbibers, we still have to deal with the fallout from Bud Light, when certain people got upset that the beer brand had sent transgender TikTok influencer Dylan Mulvaney a customized bottle. An embarrassing culture war followed, one that included death threats and Kid Rock poorly shooting up cans — all of which was not helped by Anheuser-Busch’s backtracking (side note, that company doesn’t have the best history in these matters.)
Apparently It’s Miller Lite’s Turn to Be a Culture War FlashpointThe ad debuted in March and featured Ilana Glazer talking beer and history
Given the rise of anti-gay rhetoric online and particularly transphobic rhetoric, it’s probably not a surprise that a simple “It’s Pride, we acknowledge the LGBTQ+ community” Instagram got heated. The comments on the Michter’s Pride post are, at times, troublesome. If you don’t care for the vitriol and bigotry, here’s a general breakdown of the responses:
- General levels of likes and support, and a few digs at people who posted negative comments for being snowflakes
- A cynical (but fair) suggestion that Michter’s, like most other brands, will go back to ignoring the LGBTQ+ community when it’s not Pride Month. That’s a different discussion and one worth having, but I have no insight into Michter’s efforts beyond this Instagram post.
- A fair number of people mentioning Bud Light and saying “know your customers” and tagging “Go Woke Go Broke” or a similarly simple rhyme, while also threatening boycotts
Thankfully, the post seems to have garnered more likes and support over the last 24 hours. And many of the people posting hurtful messages seem to have fewer than 300 followers and/or private accounts (so brave!). To combat a few of the common negative comments: for those who want Michter’s to “know [their] audience,” it’s one that continues to get more diverse each year! I believe Michter’s does, in fact, know who’s drinking its whiskey.
As for “go woke go broke,” outside of using “woke” for anything you don’t like, yes, Anheuser-Busch InBev has taken a hit in both sales and in the stock market since spring. But maybe you should ask Elon Musk how his anti-woke efforts at Twitter are going (or ask Kid Rock when’s the last time he had a hit single, or how Tucker Carlson is enjoying unemployment). The lesson learned from one company boycott isn’t necessarily repeatable.
Here’s hoping Michter’s — and every other spirits company — continues to both acknowledge its fans of all stripes and puts forth effort for change and acceptance beyond a social media post during a particular month.
P.S. For those drinkers who are abandoning Michter’s because of an innocuous Instagram post or threatening to “pour it down the drain,” we’ll happily take any of those hard-to-find bottles you don’t want.
Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.