After Anheuser-Busch realized their poor marketing decision in “partnering” with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney—a decision that evaporated some $6 billion in market capitalization in a matter of days—the company moved quickly in an attempt to regain the audience it had lost. Last week, the company released an online commercial titled “The Shared Spirit,” which might have passed the smell test some other time in history, but not now.
Soon after the Mulvaney marketing effort blew up in the beer company’s face, an interview emerged with Bud Light’s vice president of marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid. In it, she says her goal was for the brand to evolve and be more “inclusive.”
“Representation is sort of the heart of evolution,” Heinerscheid explains. “You’ve got to see people who reflect you in the work. And we had this hangover—I mean, Bud Light had been kind of a brand of fratty, kind of out-of-touch humor, and it was really important that we had another approach.”
Given Heinerscheid’s remarks, “The Shared Spirit” spot looks like pandering to the lowest common denominator—a.k.a. all of the people who will no longer be drinking Bud Light, at least in her mind.
It’s important to put this commercial into perspective. Where it would typically be a patriotic and warm take on America, it’s clear to anyone who is paying attention that Bud Light quickly threw together a piece to counteract their bad press—and made a caricature of patriotism and former Bud Light drinkers in the process.
The commercial features one of the brand’s iconic Clydesdale horses traveling the country, beginning on a dusty country road, then traveling to both coasts, with images meant to tug at a patriot’s heartstrings: raising the flag, putting your hand over your heart as it’s raised, the St. Louis Arch, and a fire department are just the beginning of this pandering. Where the ad really becomes enraging is when the commercial cuts to New York City and invokes the memory of 9/11 by showing an image of One World Trade Center in the City’s skyline, with the caption “Remember.”
Heinerscheid and the Bud Light team, realizing the conservative audience they lost, made a cacophony of patriotic noise in a pathetic attempt to win us back. I imagine an emergency meeting led by some obvious leftist wherein there was a brainstorming session about “what those conservatives love.” The room full of crunchy marketing executives with their $10 lattes began brainstorming ideas: “American flags, fire departments, dusty country roads . . . 9/11!”
Upon hearing 9/11, the head of the meeting would turn to the group and say, “That’s it! That’ll win back the rubes. There’s nothing more patriotic than that!”
But it didn’t.
And it won’t.
For too long, marketing and entertainment executives have taken conservatives for granted— and have been spitting in our faces by talking down to us with social justice lectures in all aspects of culture—from film and TV to music and sports, and even food and drink. The Bud Light backlash is a rare instance in which right-leaning consumers got together and stopped buying a product—and the brand felt it financially almost immediately. Deservedly so! After all, why would you give your hard-earned money to someone who hates you?
Their response? Talking down to you yet again, with simple imagery that they think is enough to win you back.
There are some important lessons to be gleaned from this episode: First, when those of us on the Right work together, we can get a brand to respond the same way the Left does when they screech about nonsense representation.
Second, we are a long way away from these brands honestly changing their ways. We cannot be satisfied with perfunctory and performance-based reactions.
Until things do change, there are plenty of small businesses, including a micro-brewery in nearly every town that could use your help —and these companies, likely, won’t pander to the woke mob. Support good people, not corporations who think you’re stupid.