Budweiser’s Latest Tagline was Kind of a Trainwreck

If you’ve ever seen a Budweiser commercial, you know that the brand is usually pretty funny. Most of their campaigns endearingly feed into the frat like culture that the beer promotes. However, a new slogan printed on their bottles have left some wondering what they were thinking this time. So much so that the company has pulled the slogan all together, no longer using it in any of their ads or on their bottles. The new label is failing particularly within the female segment of Bud Light customers.

The saying reads “The Perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night,” and does not seem to be doing too well with customers. The phrase was coined as a continuation of the companies “Up for Whatever” campaign. Although meant to be something fun and exciting for drinkers to rejoice in letting loose, other have taken the ad to mean something much different. Rather than perceiving it as the (bud) light hearted, fratty saying it was (hopefully) intended to be received as, women and many others across the internet have picked up on its unfortunate sexual connotation, alluding to the date rape culture. Especially in a setting/country where women and feminists around the nation are crying out for a stop to date rape culture, especially on college and university campuses,this ad could not have been more poorly planned or released at a worse time.

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People were visibly upset by the ad, sparking tweets and posts online calling for the company to take responsibility for it and its removal. Even US Rep Nita Lowey took a stand, tweeting, and sending an email claiming “This grossly shortsighted marketing tactic shows an epic lack of understanding of the dangers associated with excessive alcohol consumption, such as sexual assault and drunk driving. We need responsible companies to help us tackle these serious public health and safety problems, not encourage them.”

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Of course, the company immediately backtracked as best they could and admitted the choice of word in the ad was definitely not the best. “It’s clear that this message missed the mark, and we regret it…We would never condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior,” claims Bud Light VP, Alexander Lambrecht. Although the company stopped all production of cans and bottles with the label on it, there are still those produced prior, continuing to circulate the market. I would like to say that a problem like this is not foreseeable in the future, but that probably is not an accurate statement. This is not the first of Budweiser’s slip-ups with bad ads. Even within this specific “#UpForWhatever” campaign, this is not the first incident. They had similar instance happen back around St. Patrick’s day that attracted very much online backlash from the public. For such a successful and funny company, you’d think Budweiser’s marketing team would know better than to let lazy work affect sales.

3 comments

  1. Shawn, I am so glad you posted on this topic! As I was scrolling through Facebook and Twitter today, I noticed countless people talking about it. I am sure Budweiser did not mean to make any illusions towards sexual assault or rape, but unfortunately those are very sensitive topics and it has been interpreted that way. To be honest, I am shocked that the campaign got through approval to the point where it was printed on bottles… (wondering who got fired as well). Anyhow, from another standpoint, I really enjoy their #UpForWhatever campaign. I think it promotes a lifestyle that too many people surpass as they get caught up in the stresses of life. Anyhow, great post!

  2. Great post, Shawn! I also enjoy the #UpForWhatever campaign. Bud Light succeeds in reaching target customers and encouraging brand engagement through the use of the hashtag. Although, it is unfortunate that this particular tagline missed the mark. I am curious to see what impact this has on the brand reputation or future advertising. Because controversy has been stirring since the St. Patrick’s Day tweet, (“pinch people who aren’t #upforwhatever”), I feel as though the ‘shock-factor’ is decreased and will not have a tremendous impact on the brand. Additionally, I noticed that the apology tweet was promoted by @BudLight, something I have not noticed before – has anyone else seen examples of promoted apology tweets?

  3. tcbcmba2015 · ·

    No Kate, have not seen a lot of instances of promoted apology tweets, but that certainly is one way to try and make sure your message is widely disseminated and seen. What I want to know is how much longer are we, as a society, going to feign outrage at every unintended mistake? I feel pretty confident that 99% of people who saw the new Bud Light bottle label 1) knew what they intended it to mean and 2) could also infer the negative interpretation of the phrase at the same time. Yes, Budweiser should be full of people who are smarter and know better, but sometimes you get so caught up in what you’re trying to accomplish you miss the obvious. Clearly Budweiser as a company does not support or condone date-rape. With due respect to Rep. Lowey, do we really have to pretend to be upset and make the self-righteous, demonstrative stand every time something like this happens? Does society really gain anything out of that approach? Don’t give me the ‘it’s important to have a dialogue’ argument; when have you actually had a dialogue over one of these controversies that wasn’t really just gossiping over the incident itself? And if you are offended, what’s stopping you from having the dialogue among your peers if you so choose? I don’t need the societal pronouncement that it’s ok to do so. Couldn’t we try something more level-headed? If Bud Light hears “Hey Bud Light, read you bottle message again and think about it for a second – then go ahead and remove it” from 2 million people I doubt they’d stick with the slogan. I’m pretty sure they’d get it, feel the same amount of embarrassment, still apologize and remove the message from the bottle. They made a mistake, it was dumb, let’s fix it and move on.

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