Bud Light, a flagship brand of Anheuser-Busch, is making headlines again, but not for reasons one might expect. After a contentious marketing shift featuring trans activist Dylan Mulvaney, which led to a significant backlash from their traditional ‘BroDude’ demographic, Bud Light is now betting big on a partnership with Dana White, CEO of UFC, to promote the aggressive and divisive sport of ‘Power Slap.’
This move comes as a surprise to many, as Bud Light’s recent efforts to align with more progressive and ‘woke’ values seemed to alienate their core consumer base. The ‘BroDude’ demographic, long associated with the brand, responded negatively to the company’s change in direction, leading to a notable drop in sales. The backlash was so severe that it was humorously summed up as “Beer today, gone tomorrow.”
It looks like Bud Light was trying this marketing strategy in a lot of places before it blew up in their face. pic.twitter.com/EoaiJjAMbP— Chad Prather (@WatchChad) May 19, 2023
However, in what seems like a pendulum swing back to appeal to their original market, Bud Light is now embracing Power Slap, a sport where two individuals engage in a high-stakes slapping contest until one is overwhelmed. This partnership, part of a six-year, $100 million-plus branding deal, is seen by many as a desperate attempt by Bud Light to recapture its lost market share.
The decision to partner with Dana White, known for his success in promoting mixed martial arts, is viewed by some as a risky move. Critics argue that this could be one of the biggest branding overreaches in recent history, a stark contrast to the brand’s previous image associated with Americana, blue-collar values, and traditional masculinity.
Bud Light is mocking real women. Did they forget that women have 51% of buying power in US and men who pretend to be women aren't even 1%?— Տᗩᑎᗪᖇᗩ (@TheSandraHQ) April 6, 2023
Dylan is an actor pretending to woman. But that isn't enough of a slap in the face, he pretends to be a vacuous, flighty, young girl… pic.twitter.com/vKbksvSzGC
Bud Light’s marketing journey has been a rollercoaster. From the iconic Clydesdale ads and Spuds MacKenzie, the brand once embodied a certain All-American ethos. But recent shifts, including the controversial Mulvaney campaign and now the Power Slap partnership, signal a brand in search of its identity amidst a changing cultural landscape.
The question remains: Will this bold move bring back the BroDudes, or is it another misstep for a brand struggling to find its footing in a beer market that is now rich with diverse and flavorful options? Only time will tell if Bud Light’s latest gamble will pay off or if it will be remembered as another instance of a brand losing its way. Meanwhile, beer enthusiasts continue to enjoy the abundant choices offered by local breweries, leaving Bud Light to navigate its challenging path forward.
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