The marketing chief behind Bud Light’s parent company AB InBev is saying that the ongoing boycott is an important wake-up call for the company.
- AB InBev was awarded the “Lion” award at the Cannes Lions Awards 2023 this past weekend, winning “Creative Marketer of the Year” for the second year in a row.
- The award had been announced in March, prior to the ongoing controversy with Bud Light.
- Speaking Monday in Cannes, marketing executive Marcel Marcondes addressed a crowd of his colleagues and admitted that its attempt to attract a new demographic backfired.
- He admitted that the Bud Light controversy has created a need for humility and avoiding divisive issues, remembering “to really understand our customers.”
Why It’s Important
This admission comes after a significant drop in Bud Light sales. On April 1, transgender social influencer Dylan Mulvaney released an Instagram post as part of a promotion with Bud Light, showing that their face had been added to cans of beer.
Two weeks later, sales of the drink precipitously dropped as conservatives boycotted the brand after a video of a marketing executive said that her goal was to shift the company’s target demographic from “fratty” customers to young progressives.
Bud Light has suffered a multibillion-dollar stock valuation drop, falling behind Modelo as the most popular beer in the country, and suffering a 30.3% year-over-year sales drop, Newsweek report. Some distributors are reporting as much as a 60% drop in beer sales over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, according to ABC News.
With the possibility of permanent brand and sales damage looming, Bud Light is scrambling to repair its image in the coming months, with the upcoming Independence Day and Labor Day holidays being large sales weekends. Bud Light has attempted to correct course, releasing a statement last Thursday saying, “You can look forward to Bud Light reinforcing what you’ve always loved about our brand.”
Attempts to return to its previous Americana image have not been well received by the public, either from conservative boycotters or LGBTQ+ critics who argue the brand has betrayed them.
“In times like this, when things get divisive and controversial so easily, I think it’s an important wake-up call to all of us marketers for us to be very humble. It’s tough to see all the controversial and divisive debates happening in the U.S. the last couple of weeks involving lots of brands and companies, including, especially, Bud Light,” says Marcondes.