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Bud Light brand health shows no sign of recovery as impact of backlash persists

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Bud Light has seen its brand health plummet following a wave of consumer boycotts angered by the use of transgender influencer.

According to the YouGov Brand Index shared with Marketing Week, the beer brand index score, an overall measure of brand health, has dropped to -8.4 in the United States since June 11. This number is down significantly from the same time last year when its score was 7.9.

Although Bud Light is a much smaller brand in terms of market share in the UK, the backlash is also having an impact on this side of the Atlantic. Bud Light’s stat score dropped from 0.4 on March 31 to -6.2 on June 14 in the UK.

Problems with AB InBev’s owned brand began in April when Bud Light drew anger from conservatives in the US following a short-lived partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney . The brand sent Mulvaney a can of Bud Light with her picture on it as part of its ‘March Madness’ campaign. A video of the influencer sharing the can went viral and sparked backlash, including from musician Kid Rock, who posted a video of him shooting a can of Bud Light.

While Mulvaney’s video drew a negative response from conservatives who saw it as a show of support for transgender rights from AB InBev, the company’s response to the gap was Their approach to influencers and their handling of situations has also been criticized by LGBTQ advocacy groups.

CEO Michel Doukeris cleared up the controversy in an investor call, suggesting it involved “one can, one influencer, one post, not one campaign.” . And after the backlash, Bud Light’s vice president of marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid, and vice president of marketing for its main brands, Daniel Blake, were forced to quit.

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Doukeris said last month that “beer itself shouldn’t be at the heart of the debate,” while North America CEO Brendan Whitworth stated the company wanted to “bring people together.” He added: “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people.

US consumer sentiment on Bud Light following backlash. Source: YouGov

However, it seems that it’s not just the longtime haters that have a problem with AB InBev, as nationally representative figures from YouGov show that the Bud Light brand has suffered comprehensive damage.

The biggest response has been among older consumers, with Bud Light’s index for over-50s falling to -14.5 from 18.1 last year. Scores of young consumers (ages 18 to 34) have also dropped to negative (-0.7), albeit from a much lower baseline (1.1).

While the brand has maintained a positive index score for 35- to 49-year-olds (0.9), it has also dropped significantly from last year’s 13.3.

It’s been more than two months since Mulvaney’s original post, but the data shows little sign of improvement. This month, the beer also lost its lead as the best-selling beer in the US, according to data from consulting firm Bump Williams. Sales fell by almost a quarter in the four weeks ending June 3. However, it remains the best-selling brand in the US by far.

In May, AB InBev’s CEO admitted there had been “some viral impact” of the Bud Light controversy to the company’s other brands. However, the YouGov Brand Index did not show any noticeable impact on the brand health of Stella Artois, AB InBev’s fellow brand.

Bud Light’s advertising backlash shows the intricacies of mass marketing

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Last year, the US LGBTQ advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, gave AB InBev the highest rating for its inclusion and equality efforts; however, following controversy, it has now delisted this rating.

“In the face of anti-LGBTQ+ and transgender criticism, Anheuser-Busch’s actions demonstrate a profound lack of courage in speaking up,” said Jay Brown, senior vice president of programs and research for the organization. uphold the organization’s values ​​of diversity, equity and inclusion. training, in a letter to the company.

While the brand boycott was largely led by conservatives, AB InBev’s response may well have damaged the brand’s health among more liberal Americans.

Last month, AB InBev told investors it would triple its media investment for Bud Light this summer. All efforts to restore the brand’s health so far seem to be in vain.

Amid all this controversy, AB InBev has been named Creative Marketer of the Year for the second year organized by Cannes Lions.



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