What were they thinking at Bud Light?
Something about the sudden shift in marketing strategy for Bud Light doesn't pass the smell test.
An iconic brand that, based on some of the best commercials you'll ever see, never ceased to hit the target of its intended customers has, overnight, decided to abandon those customers and dollars as "fratty and out of touch," and go after...what, exactly? We do not really know.
Thomas Lifson showed us the video of Alissa Heinerscheid, vice president of marketing for the Bud Light brand, trying to explain her strategy. I am sorry, but when explaining a marketing strategy for beer, it seems both intentional as well as awkward and discomfiting to see her children's artwork posted behind her. Beer and children just do not mix.
The result of that strategy should not have been unexpected. Bud Light sales are in the toilet. Overnight. A viral video shows Bud Light sitting untouched in a store's cooler.
I contend, therefore, that this was not the biggest blunder in corporate marketing history. Anyone could have seen what was going to happen. To believe that this strategy wasn't market-tested before going full steam ahead is like believing that Russia helped Trump win an election, or something like that.
As fast as Bud Light sales tanked, it didn't take long for Chasten Buttigieg to criticize everyone who boycotted the brand. His tweet:
If you’re upset about a beer company supporting civil rights, you might want to start bottling your tears. LGBTQ people drink water, too. Gonna boycott that next?— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) April 8, 2023
Now, I'm certain that Chasten isn't a scholar of marketing, but once again, this much maligned statement seems intentionally off course to do nothing more than create division. I lived through the Pete Buttigieg years as mayor here in South Bend. When he was first elected, we did not know his personal orientation. He was young and seemed likeable and capable. When he decided to come out with the fact that he was gay, nobody cared. In spite of the fact that he ended up being as terrible of a mayor as he is transportation secretary, we still don't care that he's gay. To the vast majority of those of us on the right, how anyone wants to run his personal life is his business, and it should not be my business. Therefore, why should Chasten care who drinks Bud Light?
If Bud Light decides to align its branding with the LGBT crowd, so be it. I don't drink the stuff anyway, but if others decide to abandon it in favor of a label more aligned with themselves, that is, or should be, their choice. But will it be? Or is the left going to use this as leverage to divide us further by shaming all those who don't embrace the LGBT-endorsed products? As a private-sector business that survives on profits, how does Belgian InBev survive this strategy? Was this all pre-planned to drive a wedge into this social issue with a planned escape route to be executed later?
Much like how there is some belief that the true strategy of "New Coke" was marketing brilliance and not a blunder, and that Trump's 2016 campaign succeeded in large part because he consumed so much air time in mainstream media that one couldn't help but pay attention to him, there may be more afoot here in not only the Bud Light strategy, but also the growing list of LGBT-endorsed products like Nike, Kate Spade, Instacart, etc. than meets the eye. Time will tell.
Photo credit: YouTube screen grab (cropped).