Brand Damage: Bud Light in Dark Times

Brand Damage: Bud Light in Dark Times

The most talked about company over the last week is no doubt Anheuser-Busch, more specifically Bud Light.

The "most popular beer" in America, in terms of market share chose to alienate their core customer base, in the name of growth & inclusivity, by partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Think about that for a second. With your knowledge of brands, do you think Bud Light and a transgender influencer are a combo that makes sense?

Most people with a mind for business understand what they were trying to do in the move, attract a new customer segment but what's leaving most us scratching our heads is the reasoning for the move.

Here is a clip of their VP of Marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid explaining the company's pivot.
(Note: her portion is only about 30 seconds or so in this longer video.)

Let's breakdown some of her statements...

"I’m a businesswoman, I had a really clear job to do when I took over Bud Light, and it was ‘This brand is in decline, it’s been in a decline for a really long time, and if we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand there will be no future for Bud Light,"

In terms of consumption, Bud Light is the sales leader in their category of goods so it's important to note that the "decline" she references is not a fiscal one but a social one. Their core base is getting older and they understand that our nation's great wealth transfer is fully underway. This is a money move yet in a twist of irony company sales have plummeted 30% since going public with their decision.

"I had a super clear" mandate to evolve and elevate this incredibly iconic brand. What I brought to the brand was a belief that to evolve and elevate means to incorporate inclusivity, it means shifting the tone, it means having a campaign that’s truly inclusive, and feels lighter and brighter and different, and appeals to women and to men."

This "mandate" could end up severely backfiring on the brand because it's not often that we see a company take "evolve and elevate" as a justification to alienate and potentially eliminate their core consumer base.

More than anything, this move points to the changing relationship between business, politics, and sociology.

I leave you with this thought...

We must understand that the social and political pressures of the day are coming for businesses large and small. We also have to be willing to stand on the values of our company, our most loyalty consumers that align with us in them, and understand that inconsistency or sudden shifts, will produce chaos and upheaval and will ultimately damage the brand.


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