By SUZANNE DOWNING
Anheuser-Busch InBev is the largest beer maker in the world, producing six of the top 10 beer brands by volume, and enjoying sales of well over $1 billion a year.
Now, in a marketing debacle that will be taught, studied, and written about by MBA students for decades, Bud Light has cratered the company’s reputation.
Bud Light had been pure gold in the advertising industry since the 1980s, long before the Spuds McKenzie, the female bull terrier party animal mascot of the 1980s, and the hilarious “Real Men of Genius” ad campaign of the late 1990s became woven into popular culture. Bud Light brand building has been right up there with the NFL, arguably the most successful marketing organization on the planet.
But that was not good enough for Alissa Gordon Heinerscheid, the newly named vice president of Bud Light. The image of the company was just too “fratty,” she explained in a recent podcast, during which she insulted the customers that have sustained the brand for decades.
The beer’s new mascot would in 2023 become a man all dolled up like a preteen girl: Dylan Mulvaney.
Heinerscheid believes she is on the cutting edge because the beer label had been in decline. On the “Make Yourself at Home” podcast she explained how she is on a mission to evolve the brand:
“So I have this super clear mandate. We need to evolve and elevate this incredibly iconic brand. And my, what I brought to that, was a belief in ‘OK, what does evolve and elevate mean?’ It means inclusivity. It means shifting the tone. It means having a campaign that’s truly inclusive and feels lighter and brighter and different and appeals to women and to men,” Heinerscheid said.
“And representation is … at the heart of evolution. You’ve gotta see people who will reflect you in the work. And we had this hangover. I mean Bud Light had been kind of a brand of fratty, kind of out-of-touch humor,” she explained.
And that, beer lovers, is how transgender activist Mulvaney came to be the new face of Bud Light. Mulvaney, a TikTok star and transgender personality who has done incredibly well in the famous-for-being-famous space, has brought his version of come-hither trans sexuality into the brand best known for a low-calorie, low-carb buzz, with notes of hops and malt.
The real marketing men and women of genius over at Budweiser forgot one thing: Don’t hate your customer.
When it launched Heinerscheid as its new VP during the Super Bowl, she explained to Forbes magazine that the 2023 Super Bowl ad, featuring people dancing as they are on a phone call hold, was the company’s new shift to showing real people, especially women.
“This campaign is meant to feel different, to be lighter and brighter, with a confidence and magnetism, and it’s really critical to depict real people and real places,” she told Forbes. “What I need to do to help this brand to evolve … this is my passion point.”
Heinerscheid told Forbes that Bud Light has been “everything to everyone, and as a result, we’ve not been (mindful) about where it shows up.”
Then she spoke to the importance of women. Her top strategic priority was to make sure that women were represented: “Female representation is a personal passion point of mine.”
By April 1, Heinerscheid decided that real people were not the market and female representation was not the priority.
Instead, a wholly manufactured TikTok personality, famous for skipping around a little girl’s bedroom like a pre-pubescent girl, is the real person that represents the brand.
Pro-tip: You’ll never be able to replace all the customers you lose at once with your new target market.
It looks like Bud Light is targeting pre-teens. Dylan Mulvaney does play-act the role of an underage girl. But that is a targeting mistake for another column.
If you’re one of the most successful brands in the history of marketing, and if you’re hating on your existing customer while you search for a better customer, maybe this Bud blunder is on you.
Real Men of Genius and Spuds McKenzie, the campaigns that built the brand, spoke to America with humor and storytelling.
Perhaps it is not just the customer that Bud Light has decided to hate. Perhaps the corporate geniuses, looking for that ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) preferential scoring for investors, have simply decided to hate Americans because they are not woke enough for the “evolving” brand of beer. Good luck with that strategy. This Bud, America, is definitely not for you.
Suzanne Downing is publisher of Must Read Alaska.
I read in the NY Post the real driver of this is Blackrock and their insistence on certain kinds of social behavior.
Promote this, endorse that, do the following or pay the price by Blackrock not doing their job by investing their money properly.
Khrushchev was right. America will fall without Russia ever firing a shot.
Masked, you’re right about Khrushchev. However, we failed to see his comment applied to USSR even more so. In 1991, it collapsed into its own folly of socialism. They endured about 83 years of economic and social misery from which they still haven’t reformed and overcome. They just can’t shake off the fallacious ideology of socialism. Chinese are a different matter. They have a legacy of slave mentality but they do allow for free market features in their economy.
Respectfully disagree, as ESG is waning because it is in direct conflict with all the fiduciary responsibility laws. And nobody even started with anti-trust or RICO violations.
Rather, I think this is more a comment on what is coming out of the colleges and universities these days. She’s 39, so has been out in the (formerly) real world for 18 years. Everyone goes to the same schools, is taught the same thing by profs who all believe the same thing, and end up doing the same thing. This explains why HR/ER departments are all cesspools. Sadly, those who are younger have been indoctrinated more thoroughly. Cheers –
It might be noted, Budweiser is no longer owned by Americans. Sold out years ago like many iconic brands.
Great research. If they were still an American brand I would feel bad. It isn’t, so I won’t feel bad. Nothing like the phrase shooting yourself in the foot.
Talk about missing your target audience, especially considering there’s so many beer choices these days. Who is the majority stopping by the sports bar for a beer to watch the game? Who is swinging by the liquor store for a six pack after work? This is just another exaggerated, head scratching, liberal attempt to save society from toxic masculinity doom. Their idea of our gutsy, heroic, inclusivity savior…a dude who dresses like a woman and acts like a child. Boycott 😐
How to say you have absolutely and comically no idea how much alcohol the LGBTQ+ community consumes without saying it.
Well dear, first you’re talking about around 7% of the population in the US. Second, I never said anything about LGB. I believe you’ll find that community is getting pretty tired of being controlled by trans activists and people with mental illness. If you don’t know the majority of Bud Light customers then your about as bright as their new marketing VP.
Why did you call her dear? That’s creepy.
The Superbowl commercial was equally ignorant.
Dylan Mulvaney is a man, i alsi do not use any more “preferred” pronouns.
I “prefer” to be truthful, Dylan is a He/him.
Thank you Suzanne!
The swing and miss on the advertising side is absolutely phenomenal. Think about who they are marketing for, as in who exactly drinks beer. EVERYBODY drinks beer! It’s not just men from a certain demographic. Men and women, gay and straight drink beer. Period. You may want to boost your sales in certain areas or with certain age groups, but the bottom line is, beer is consumed across almost all gender, age, and class groupings. Looking at the advertising from this angle, it seems like ol’ Alissa Heinerscheid has the ability to fall out of a boat and miss the water.
The day of reckoning is coming. We Americans are losing freedoms every day. Just like Hitler in World War II first did your neighbor and then it’s you. Power and Money is the name of the game. America’s need to wake up and start doing something more than talk. The lift just keeps pushing and pushing and nobody’s pushing back. They are pushing us into a corner.
I believe the real problem here is college graduates who are poorly educated and out of touch. Over time, even the business schools have driven off non-liberal professors and administration. They even cancel lecturers who fail to espouse liberal ideals. We are getting biased graduates out into corporations and governments and their lack of balance and rational thought is causing incidents like this one.
New ad message: “Real men don’t drink Bud Light”. I don’t drink, so they haven’t “lost” me, but if I did, I would certainly not want to identify with or be seen drinking a Bud Light… Required pushback says boycott.
Her top strategic priority was to make sure that women were represented: “Female representation is a personal passion point of mine.”
Then by all means, use REAL WOMEN not dumb tranny men to represent that! Keep boycotting this mess. Get woke, GO BROKE! I hope Anhauser Busch goes broke as hell for this massive error in morality.
“Everything woke turns to sh*t”
“Go woke, go broke”
Another great analysis Suzanne.
I believe that you are correct predicting that this giant debacle will be taught for years to come as a “what not to do.”
This marketing genius is responsible for the brand losing over $5billion in value in just a matter of days. One wonders how someone keeps their job after pulling off something like that?
Complain all you want, nothing will happen & Bud Light will continue on. Remember the frogs? Much like yourselves, people complained about them. Nothing happened. Get over it, do or don’t drink Bud Light. Nobody cares.
Anheuser-Busch (AB), the parent company of Bud Light, lost more than $6.5 billion in market value after announcing the promotional partnership with transgender activist and social media celebrity Dylan Mulvaney.
The shares dropped after a nationwide backlash against Bud Light that spread to other countries, including Canada.
After the New York Stock Exchange closed Wednesday, AB shares fell almost 5% since the Bud Light and Mulvaney deal was announced at the beginning of the month.The drop wiped out $6.65 billion in AB’s market capitalization.
Shares dropping after the announcement barely made a dent. Look at the 52-week highs and lows.
For people who don’t follow stocks, the line is going up, and still going up as of today.
“Bud Light On Your Feet.”
A niche market for tr*nnies only. Couple of sips and you’ll be swishing away.
Will Bud Light be the case study that breaks the stranglehold of the ESG-compliance mafia?
Only if sane people consistently decline to endorse it with their patronage until the company issues a public apology for its less than praiseworthy behavior. At that moment (and not before), buy Bud Light.
The battle isn’t to destroy companies that have gone woke, but to free companies from the stranglehold. A public apology is a step towards freedom from the woke cult, and should be immediately rewarded. Bud Light isn’t normally on my shopping list, but if they do an about face I’ll take a special trip to grab some (for target practice if nothing else).
Once one company takes a step towards freedom, the next company to leave the cult can be identified and the process can begin again.
I think your classification of “sane” people is a fading breed. Nobody cares.
She also called Bud Light a “vice product”.
Vice- Immoral or wicked behavior.
Marketing is as much an art as it is a science. There will be hits, and there will be misses.
While it is absolutely controversial to put Mulvaney as the face of any product, realize this is a person who gets millions of eyeballs on screens every day. Selecting someone with that kind of name/face recognition is a no brainer. Or, it would be a no-brainer if the marketing executive asked “Why is this person getting this kind of recognition?” Which appears to be a question that was not asked.
Read your audience. Does the average person drinking Bud Light seek out folks like Mulvaney because they are impressed by how courageous Mulvaney is? Or are they looking at the train wreck? If you select the train wreck to represent your product, you deserve the ridicule you receive.
This Mulvaney is a comedy show at best. I find it difficult to believe the entire thing is not some kind of pantomime to ridicule transgenders. In fact, I would not be surprised to find out Mulvaney was born a girl, and created this character of a boy transitioning to girlhood as a parody of the transgender movement.
“Super clear mandate…”
That doesn’t mean what you think it means!
Bud Light in the Loafers.
This is not a marketing error. It’s the dismantling of an American Icon. Cancel Culture on display. Take an iconic American brand that influenced lives for decades and destroy them right in front of our eyes. Expect more of this.
There are lots and lots of other excellent beers to drink. AB/InBev may have forgotten that they are in a competitive market. Good luck to them in their effort to make their products essential for the transgender market.
Note: It may be good to check through the AB/InBev product line to have an idea what beer brands to avoid.
So just how is Mulvaney ‘representing women’? DEI leads to DIE
Somebody should’ve warned her that trying to reach women with a man dressing like a little girl is akin to trying to reach African Americans with a white man prancing about in blackface.
It is actually, factually derogatory.
Just saw he is advertising sports bras for Nike.
Seriously? A dude with the chest of a 9 year old needs a sports bra? I got bigger moobs than he does.
The female VP wokester says: “Female representation is a personal passion point of mine.” So you make a “fake” woman the face of your brand? Wow, Harvard and Wharton degrees are becoming worth less every day.
Just remember the woke business of Disney, it shouldn’t take long for Anheuser-Busch to realize they made their mistake and in another few months, they’ll come back to their senses and drop this baloney. Yes, it’ll take time and the lose of $$ for them to return, just like Disney.. if Money is the driver of business. They’ll loose their shirts and when returning your drinks are NOT going to be cheap..
Rather appropriate, I’d say, having a man masquerading as a woman representing diluted urine masquerading as beer.
Of all the problems in the world, this is what democrats are concerned about, turning boys into girls and girls into boys. Mean while the rest of the world wants to destroy us. We are doomed with them in charge. I thank people like Marjorie Taylor Green for calling them what they are, pedofiles and perverts. Just look at our little girl hair sniffing excuse of a president we have. We are living in a psychotic bizarro world.
Your halfway to being a transgender if you ever drank light beer in the first place.
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