Published on: April 26, 2023
The debate over the Bud Light situation continues.
At one point I referred to the people who were the most virulent and vehement in their reactions to Bud Light actually marketing its beer to the trans community as "transphobic cretins." Though I did ask if that was "too far" or "too soon."
One MNB reader responded:
I think that you went too far with the comment.
You could be a little more balanced or neutral in your opinion here because those people are also expressing their opinion. We are too quick to name calling and labeling people who think differently and it’s a huge problem today. I like a lot of your commentary and have followed you for quite some time now. I don’t think that we need more division and polarizing comments like that.
There are extremes on both sides of issues like this and we could point both out.
Political and ideologies have permeated the grocery business and many facets of life like sports. Some out there are really tired of having a constant bombardment of some of the societal or political issues. This and the demonizing of certain people’s beliefs won’t solve anything. It’s not going to convince them that they are wrong. It will embolden them and create more of them.
I agree that there are people on both sides that take issues like this way too far and there are always extremes. These types of marketing decisions have become a bit political and they should have expected blowback, as you said. This is one where you could have left this comment out and I would have agreed with most everything is this post.
Also, I do think that companies do leave people out to dry when things like this happen. Maybe the company should be more careful with hot topics like this and maybe stick to their business and not societal issues. They aren’t given much choice at times but some companies don’t genuinely care about some of the issues that speak on. Some companies do care but some just support these issues when it’s popular.
A few things here.
First, it is really important to realize that Bud Light likely wasn't trying to make a political statement when it tried to get a trans influencer to promote its beer. It was just trying to sell more beer. Everything that followed has been political - and, on A-B's part, totally ham-handed.
Second, I'm doing this story because it is a marketing story, relevant to how the MNB community conducts business.
Third, if there were just about people expressing political opinions, that would be one thing. But this is people expressing bigotry. I see no rationale for ignoring it, or not calling it out as exactly that.
I know a lot of people who occupy various segments of the LGBTQ+ community. In the end, the most important word in that sentence is "people." They don't deserve this kind of abuse and bullying.
I think it is important for people who react this way to people in the LGBTQ+ community to think about how they would feel if the people who are the subject of their ire were their children, their siblings, or their friends. I, at least, try to think about these scenarios within that context.
MNB reader Jeff Gartner wrote:
Just a quick reply to one of your readers who commented that sending a swag bag to an influencer who is transgender is a political statement and that they should just "run the company." Well, intentionally deciding NOT to send that swag bag to an influencer who is transgender is also a political statement.
I still don't get the cruelty. How did Bud Light harm anyone who is opposed to transgenders? Apparently, their very existence is perceived as a personal threat. It's so cruel and so sad.
But another MNB reader wrote, in response to my commentary about the hypocrisy of Bud Light forcing two marketing executives to take a leave of absence:
Re: your comment that no one should have been fired. I think that is totally unrealistic. A-B’s marketing departments’ bonehead decision to pander to 1%’rs, in an attempt to expand their consumer base, backfired and lost the company billions. If you had employees that cost you billions, wouldn’t you fire them? Or would you pat them on the head and say that’s ok no worries. I sincerely doubt it.
I would argue that when Bud Light tried to expand its customer base and grow its sales, that was a marketing decision. But rolling over for the bigots and hanging marketing execs out to dry - that was pandering.
My point about the marketing execs is that they did not make that decision on their own. There doubtless were dozens of meetings and memos and emails about the strategy and decision to try to grow the base and reverse the brand's decline. I just think that the CEO of A-B clearly has never heard the phrase, "The Buck Stops Here." But then again, he's mishandled pretty much everything about this situation.
On another subject, I joked yesterday:
You've all read about the fact that Tucker Carlson is out from Fox News, and that Don Lemon was dismissed by CNN. And I just want you to know that it doesn't matter how much money Fox News and CNN may offer me - I'm not leaving MorningNewsBeat or you.
I just want to be clear about that.
MNB reader Carl Jorgensen wrote:
Whew! That’s a relief, KC! I’m sure that I’m not the one only one who’s glad to hear that when CNN comes knocking with a seven-figure offer, you will hold strong for your loyal readers.
Another MNB reader wrote:
That’s probably a pretty smart move Kevin!
And from another reader:
WHAT A RELIEF!!
(Their caps. Not mine.)
And MNB reader Deborah Faragher wrote:
That put a smile on my face, Kevin. Knew you couldn’t be bought!
Oh, I can be bought. It is just that it seems more likely that I would sell MNB, along with my services, to a person or company that might be interested in giving it a lifespan beyond mine.
Not that I'm going anywhere anytime soon.