Bud Light Marketing Faces Criticism

Posted by Melissa S.
Photo by Michael Dorausch. No changes were made.

Photo by Michael Dorausch via Flickr. No changes were made.

Marketing errors happen. One company’s mistake will shortly be forgotten by the time the next scandal plays out. But with how often these occur, you’d think by now brands would get a second opinion. Earlier this week, Bud Light could have used a second opinion.

For the past two years, the Anheuser-Busch affiliate has been promoting its “Up For Whatever” marketing campaign, which encourages beer drinkers to enjoy a spontaneous, carefree night out while endorsing #UpForWhatever on social media.

The most recent campaign effort involved adding catchy, lighthearted slogans to the beer bottles. But people quickly voiced their disgust on social media about one of the so-called catchy phrases. The bottle read:

“The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night. #UpForWhatever”

Consumers instantly referenced the slogan to sexual assault, and with more than 50 percent of sexual assault cases involving alcohol, it’s not an unheard of connection to make. Critics protested the brand by using the hashtag #UpForConsent.

Anheuser-Busch followed up with a brief—like 81-words brief—statement. “It’s clear that this particular message missed the mark, and we apologize,” said Alexander Lambrecht, Vice President of Bud Light. He went on to confirm that “No means no.”

One more marketing plan gone wrong. In this day and age, how is it possible that these double messages continue to be overlooked? Why is no one there to question how things could be misinterpreted?

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9 responses to “Bud Light Marketing Faces Criticism

  1. Situations like this one probably involve a lot of “group-think,” which is when a group gets so caught up in making a decision that individuals lose the ability to properly edit themselves and question the situation. I can definitely picture a group of marketing agents getting all pumped up about these cool “Up For Whatever” ideas, and completely forgetting the importance of the word “no.” Situations like this happen all over our journalistic world, such as when the Des Moines Register ran that prom piece that only featured white girls. I think there needs to be some type of system in place where an outside editor who wasn’t present while planning and putting together campaigns, articles, and photo shoots could view the material before it is distributed. That person would not have been exposed to group-think, and would be able to approach editing with a fresh eye. Unfortunately, so many publications are cutting editing jobs that this idea is unlikely to be fit in.

    • I agree. That second set if eyes would really help in situations like this. Even the best editors can’t guarantee that they’ll find a mistake after having worked with the piece for so long.

  2. I agree with Angela that these slogans needed an outside eye. When it’s YOUR marketing/advertising campaign, you’re personally invested in it and less likely to take an critical step back to really examine what you’re putting out there. I’m honestly a little surprised that this gaffe made it all the way to [being printed on the bottles], as it was pretty glaringly cringeworthy to me, especially with all the recent discussion/media attention on sexual assault and the meaning of consent.

  3. I had the same reaction. The first time I read it my mind went to sexual assault not being the ‘yes’ man.

    • I’m with you on this. I saw this campaign last week and literally “ugh”ed out loud. Honestly, I don’t think they meant it the way everyone is taking it. But, unfortunately in the world that we live in, that’s the way most people are going to take it.

  4. bethlevalley

    Although I understand Bud Light’s marketing campaign can be interpreted in a terrible way, am I the only one that saw it as an advertising strategy first rather than the excuse for sexual assault? I get why the slogan can be interpreted this way, and I think they should discontinue it immediately; but, I also know that the #upforwhatever marketing strategy has been going on for a long time. This seemed fitting for their advertisements, and I didn’t look at it from the sexual assault angle until I saw the media posting about it and #upforconsent.

    Maybe I’m just narrow-minded, but I feel bad that this solid attempt at marketing has gotten so much bad press. However, I do think it’s a good idea to have someone not working on the campaign step in and take a look at the ideas. I’m not sure how many steps it has to go through (a lot, I’m guessing), but Angela’s point about “group-think” is very accurate.

    • I don’t think it was the #upforwhatever part that was the issue people had, I think it was more about this specific slogan (ie. the “taking no out of your vocabulary” part).

      • I agree with Sydney. This particular slogan was poorly thought-out, especially because it’s for alcohol. There are already so many problems with alcohol and sexual assault, and this strategy just further linked the two, causing the (justifiable, in my opinion) upset.

  5. To me it seems that Bud Light really just wasn’t thinking when they made this mistake. Obviously, it was really stupid of them not to think that people would make connections to their slogan with sexual assault. It’s nice to see that everyone went up in arms over this though, and showed Bud Light that we won’t stand for things like that. After all this mad press, I can’t imagine they’ll make another mistake like this again.

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