Anheuser-Busch has a history of innovative marketing and advertising campaigns. One of my favorite childhood commercials featured the three frogs named Bud, Weis, and Er. With Anheuser-Busch’s attention to detail and marketing creativity, I was shocked to see their failed marketing initiative this week as part of their #upforwhatever campaign.
The social media campaign, which was comprised of various slogans written on Bud Light bottles, asked customers to record themselves living out the slogan on their bottle and upload it to social media as #upforwhatever. Anheuser-Busch intended for the campaign to encourage spontaneous fun with a new slogan that appeared this week and read, “The perfect beer for removing no from your vocabulary for the night. #upforwhatever.”
Instead of promoting spontaneous fun, the public was outraged with the thought of promoting unwanted sexual assault. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that approximately one-half of sexual assaults in America involve alcohol.
I tend to agree with Christopher Ingraham, a reporter for the Washington Post, who wrote, “After this incident, it’s frankly dumbfounding that the latest tagline made it through countless levels of review and ended up on a beer bottle—especially given the close links between alcohol consumption and sexual assault.”
Bud Light vice president Alexander Lambrecht responded, “It’s clear that this particular message missed the mark and we regret it.”
As you can see by this fiasco of a mega-corporation who has numerous levels and review processes related to their advertising and marketing, an organization’s message can unravel quickly. Anheuser-Busch went from being a company promoting spontaneous fun to being a company in which consumers question their values.
In your organization, you need to focus on your message daily. From media communication, community newsletters, internal communication, and economic development advertising, you are marketing your city daily to not only your residents, but all potential customers.
Use your core values as a guide and plan your message accordingly. Check your message and repeat it often.
Executive Search Manager