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April 17, 2023

In Brief: The Bud Light Debacle Was by Design

But it’s not going according to the grand plan of the woke marketers.

Our own Douglas Andrews aptly covered Bud Light’s Toxic Brew last week. Naturally, millions of Americans are upset or infuriated by the company’s outrageous marketing decisions of late. Political analyst Brad Slager is one of them:

By now, most are aware of the overflowing controversy regarding the foremost beer brand in the nation, Bud Light. Many initially felt it was a prank when on April 1, the country’s inexplicable face of the trans movement, Dylan Mulvaney, revealed being feted by the beer brand. Mulvaney’s face is seen beaming from a printed beer can, and a few videos came out of the spokesmodel cavorting in a bathtub, displaying Dylan’s usual histrionics with Bud Light cans on a carousel in the background.

It was all real, as this new advertising partnership commemorated Mulvaney celebrating the one-year anniversary of being a woman. That such a thing is considered notable in the culture is already odd, and a famed brand attaching itself to such is even more of a departure from common sense.

Slager notes tanking sales and plummeting stock values, though he rightly notes that “it will take some time” to judge the long-term effects of that recent drop. “The question becomes,” he says, “just what was the intent of the beer label in taking this step?” Noting that Mulvaney has also enjoyed sponsor deals with apparel, makeup, and kitchen brands, which builds the question for more companies:

This is not about approval/disapproval of the trans movement or the proper levels of support this faction always demands. Please, they have quite the support already. It is notable that the trans demographic claims to be marginalized while it enjoys the backing of corporate America, the media, and all the way up to seeing support from the White House. Most people would appreciate a fraction of that kind of “marginalization.”

He delves into the comments of marketing genius Alissa Heinerscheid, the woman responsible for Bud Light’s decision to ditch its previous customer base and exactly the “fratty” mentality that “built the Bud Light name into the top-selling beer.” Slager adds:

She also hit on a reality for beer brands when she mentions attracting young drinkers. Beer, especially, is a product that sees an entrenched loyalty with established drinkers. So yes, she is correct in wanting to draw in emerging beer-drinking customers, but she is incorrect in thinking this is the proper course. It is far more likely that Bud Light is repelling more of those young, new beer drinkers than they are attracting with this Dylan Mulvaney partnership. Heinerscheid might want to decry the frat house methodology, but how many of those college chapters will now be looking for another brand to fuel their beer pong tournaments? The reality is in the numbers.

The number of adults in America described as transgender totals less than 1%. Now any marketer will tell you that you will never win over the entirety of a targeted group of customers. Even with an unknowable figure of how many trans beer drinkers will be swayed to take up Bud Light, that minute base means the final tally will be infinitesimally small. Now consider the number of dedicated drinkers to the label you have driven off in this marketing effort, and you begin to grasp the folly of it all.

He concludes:

It is not intolerant to suggest that this was a complete marketing misfire; there are basic demographic realities to look at. When you make Dylan Mulvaney the national face of your brand, you will receive a national response. It is not transphobic to say this was a mistake, but the move may have been profit-phobic.

Read the whole thing here.

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