Why Bud Light's campaign is so problematic. Let's discuss.
We need to real talk for a minute, because there’s some serious weirdness coming from planet Bud Light. A picture of a Bud Light beer posted yesterday on Imgur has sparked some social media outcry. According to the image, the beer’s new tagline seems to be: “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary.” That little slogan is then followed by the hashtag #UpForWhatever, and “the perfect beer for whatever happens.” Sigh. Do we really need to explain again why things like this are just not OK?
We’re honestly scratching our heads wondering who at Bud Light thought it would actually be a good idea to do something like this. And we’re not the only ones. We even went down the whole “well maybe this is just a Photoshopped image” rabbit hole, but TIME assures us that it is very real.
The picture has since gone viral on Reddit, and commenters have pointed out that this message not only makes it sound like Bud Light is OK with sexual harassment of women, but that Bud Light is also fine with people driving while under the influence. #UpForWhatever
Publications have spoken out about this marketing strategy. “Given the role that alcohol plays in many things that would have been a ‘no’ without a night of drinking — driving under the influence, sexual assault, vandalism, public urination, random ‘woot-woot’-ing as you ping-pong down the sidewalk — it’s probably not the best idea for a multinational multibillion-dollar business like Bud Light’s parent company AB InBev to publicly acknowledge that its product can lead users down a path to stupid consequences,” comments The Consumerist‘s Chris Morran.
But some believe that it wasn’t just a blind mistake, and that Bud Light totally knew what they were doing which honestly is even worse. As TIME’s Dan Mitchell explains, “The message doesn’t seem to comport with Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (and every other booze-peddler’s) exhortation to ‘Please Drink Responsibly.’ And maybe that’s the point. Given the ubiquity of ‘no means no,’ as well as the ubiquity of the backlash against such ‘politically correct’ notions, it almost seems like the brewer had to know exactly what it was doing here.”
To make matters even more troubling, this isn’t the first time Bud Light has come under fire lately. Just last March, they tweeted re: St. Patrick’s day saying, “On #StPatricksDay you can pinch people who don’t wear green. You can also pinch people who aren’t #UpForWhatever.”
The tweet was deleted, but it took a full two hours for Bud Light to delete the tweet, leading people to react to Bud Light’s #UpForWhatever hashtag with hashtags of their own, like #UpForThingsIExplicitlyConsentTo.
“We understand some people misunderstood our St. Patrick’s Day post and apologize to anyone who was offended,” a rep for the company told Mashable at the time. “We would never condone disrespectful behavior and our intention was only to playfully celebrate the holiday.”
Going back to the whole, “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary” thing, in a recent statement to Buzzfeed, Bud Light’s VP Alexander Lambrecht explained that they “regretted” the choice. The message is apparently one of 140 that you can find on different bottles.
“The Bud Light Up for Whatever campaign, now in its second year, has inspired millions of consumers to engage with our brand in a positive and light-hearted way,” writes Lambrecht. “In this spirit, we created more than 140 different scroll messages intended to encourage spontaneous fun. It’s clear that this message missed the mark, and we regret it. We would never condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior.”
We’re hoping that Bud Light goes for a new slogan ASAP.