It has been a tough few weeks to be Bud Light and Anheuser Busch. After the marketing fiasco of Dylan Mulvaney and the subsequent “leave of absence” of two of the executives assumed to be responsible, the brand has attempted to walk back the damage. For now, at least people aren’t buying it or the beer.
Sales numbers aren’t out yet, but it appears that the beer and the company have taken a massive hit as the boycott continues to build steam. During the recent NFL Draft, AB ran an ad intended to be patriotic and fun, but critics haven’t been kind. Check this out.
Anheuser-Busch, the brewer of beleaguered Bud Light, got ripped on social media for a countrified commercial that aired during the opening round of the NFL draft and featured girls in the rain drinking Bud Light underlined by Zac Brown’s song “Chicken Fried.”
Ironically, the ad consists of the exact behavior that Alissa Heinerschneid vowed to scrub from the brand’s image. Calling the beer “fratty” and “out of touch,” the former exec spoke of her desire to remake the beer’s image. That didn’t work out too well. Needless to say, critics were harsh.
Zach Dean of the Fox-owned Outkick called the video “pure pandering.”
“I nearly spit out my Yuengling,” he wrote, invoking the name of a smaller American brewer which has embraced patriotism amid the controversy. “You don’t get to just play one of the most American songs of my time, have a couple cowgirls run around in the rain and assume you’ve fixed everything. Don’t patronize us. We’re not dumb. We may be a little buzzed, but we’re not dumb.”
Another annoyed ex-customer said:
“A commercial that shows cowboys & cowgirls at a rodeo where it’s started to pour down rain while the Zac Brown Band plays ‘Chicken Fried’ is Bud Light’s latest commercial. Real smart, piss off that demographic, then cynically try to lure them back with this. Don’t fall for it.”
A third hilariously Tweeted:
“@budlight just saw your Chicken Fried commercial. Easy to drink, Easy to enjoy, and now that you are Woke, Hard to swallow. Trying to get the Zima and Whine Cooler crowd to drink your Clydesdale piss looks to have backfired.”
Some sales estimates have reported anywhere from a 17% to a 21% drop in the weeks since the ill-fated publicity stunt involving Dylan Mulvaney and the commemorative cans. Marketing insiders are calling the Mulvaney stunt one of the worst marketing blunders of all time:
“These numbers are staggering,” according to Insights Express, a beer-focused newsletter. “Right now this is an extremely difficult scenario for Anheuser Busch, the Bud Light brand and for AB distributors.” Sales of Coors Light and Miller Lite soared 18% in the same period, Insights Express noted, adding, “Coors Light and Miller Lite were once again big beneficiaries.”
Obviously, AB will eventually recover, just as Coca-Cola did after the ‘new Coke” debacle in the 80s. However, some beer drinkers won’t come back. It is simply too easy to choose another beer, as the market is flooded with better options. Anheuser Busch has alienated some folks for good, and all of the Americana-themed ads in the world won’t help. What would help would be a better product, as Bud Light is the ground beef of Light Beers. It is ok if someone else is buying, or it’s free, but many consumers will simply spend their money elsewhere, which is bad business for Bud Light.
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