Bud Light, once a beloved beer in America, now finds itself facing a widespread boycott across the nation. The recent decision to collaborate with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney has triggered an overwhelming majority of Bud Light’s customers, leading to a significant decline in sales figures across all regions. Notably, California has experienced a sales decrease of 22%, while Colorado has witnessed a substantial drop of 29%. The extent of the backlash raises concerns regarding Bud Light’s ability to recover from this setback. This situation highlights a case where a major corporation appears to have pursued a “woke” agenda at the expense of its financial success. In this week’s discussion, we will delve into the lack of corporate self-awareness exhibited by Bud Light and the entire Anheuser Busch organization.
Here are the details: In early April, Anheuser-Busch sent a customized can of Bud Light to 26-year-old Dylan Mulvaney, featuring her face on it. Dylan, a transgender influencer, shared a brief video on TikTok, dressed in a black gown and black gloves, while drinking the customized can of Bud Light. She mentioned that the promotion was related to March Madness, jokingly admitting her lack of knowledge about the sport.
Anheuser-Busch responded to the situation through a spokesperson, emphasizing their collaboration with numerous influencers across their brands as an authentic way to connect with diverse audiences. The commemorative can in question was specifically created as a gift to celebrate Dylan Mulvaney’s personal milestone in her transition and is not available for sale to the general public.
The response to this campaign was met with swift criticism. Within days, singer Kid Rock posted a video of himself shooting cases of the beer, followed by model and influencer Bri Teresi, who did the same while wearing an American flag bikini top and using a semi-automatic rifle.
Bud Light brand manager, Alissa Gordon Heinerscheid, assumed marketing responsibilities for the brand last year during a period of declining sales. She aimed to boost sales by targeting a younger, politically progressive market. However, Heinerscheid’s approach missed the mark as she failed to fully understand the preferences of Bud Light’s core consumers. Her comments were viewed as derogatory, insulting, and immature, resulting in strong negative reactions from loyal Bud Light drinkers who expressed their dissatisfaction. As a result of the backlash, both Heinerscheid and Daniel Blake, vice president for Anheuser-Busch’s mainstream brands, are currently on a leave of absence.
This outrage and boycott surrounding Bud Light’s collaboration with Dylan Mulvaney raises a broader conversation about corporate self-awareness. Bud Light’s misstep in pursuing a “woke” agenda without fully considering the sentiments of their core consumers highlights the need for companies to navigate such marketing decisions with careful consideration and genuine understanding. Every action has a reaction. Is the risk worth the reward? There was a clear lack of self awareness on the part of Alissa Gordon Heinerscheid and other executives involved with this campaign. Why give your customers a reason to intentionally disengage with your product or services? And if you’re going to do something like this, why apologize? Stay tuned next week as we discuss how the company should move forward.