Yes, I am late to the Bud Light controversy. In fact, I am so late that the party is almost over. So, no culture war thoughts from me. But just a recap. Back in March, Anheuser-Busch, the brewer of Bud Light beer used a transgender social media influencer in an effort to sell more beer to people who follow social media influencers (okay, one culture war comment: the presence of “social influencers” of any sort – people who make fortunes from nothing more than posting selfies and Tik-Tock videos – are a sure sign of our complete lack of seriousness as a culture). The attempt to use the social influencer did not help them sell more beer, however. In fact, sales are down 20% since the attempt.
Culture wars aside, the Bud Light fiasco is becoming textbook material for would-be marketers. Along with the Ford Edsel of two generations ago (or the Pontiac Aztek of one generation ago), the Bud Light affair is a potent illustration of what not to do.
It was the Edsel-like outcome of the beer campaign the Chief Marketing Officer of Bud’s parent company wanted to talk about earlier this week.
Marcel Marcondes, the chief beer peddler, has been thinking about what went wrong with the social influencer idea.
Among his thoughts:
It’s tough to see the controversial and divisive debates that have been happening in the U.S. in the last couple of weeks involving lots of brands and companies, including and especially Bud Light. It’s tough exactly because what we do is all about bringing people together.
Companies and brands must be driven by their values. We are a beer company. Beer is for everyone.
In times like this, when things get divisive and controversial so easily, I think it’s an important wake-up call to all of us marketers first of all to be very humble. That’s what we’re doing, being very humble, and really reminding ourselves of what we should do best every day, which is to really understand our consumers. Which is to really celebrate and appreciate every consumer that loves our brands — but in a way that can make them be together, not apart.
That’s what Bud Light stands for — it exists to make beer easy to drink and easy to enjoy.
Pastors, church leaders, and American Christians – this Bud’s for you!
Let’s start from the bottom. Marcel the marketer knows what he’s talking about, and the church has a lot to learn from him. Marcel knows what Bud Light stands for and that Anheuser-Busch must be driven by its values. Good lesson for the church. Do we know what Jesus stands for? Are we driven by Gospel values?
We depart, or should depart, the company of the brewer, however, when we get to the details of what we stand for and what drives us.
Maybe one of the American church’s problems is that we’ve become not much different than the beer companies, just one more purveyor of passing pleasure. Our goal is not to make disciples but to satisfy our customers.
Marcel from Bud Light says his company exists to make beer easy to drink and easy to enjoy. Sometimes it seems as if we’re telling the world “God exists to make (your) life easy to live and easy to enjoy.”
The catechism reminds us that we exist to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
Bud is all about bringing people together, the marketer says. The church is, for sure, all about bringing people together, too. But beer brings people together in a slight alcoholic haze. The church is to bring people together with their eyes wide open to their need for a savior and that savior’s call to self-giving love.
Bud Light thought they could keep everyone happy as they added some of the transgender social influencer’s fans to their family of beer drinkers. Ford thought car buyers would like the Edsel’s front grill. People get paid big bucks for decisions based on such thinking.
In fact, the church does not and cannot celebrate and appreciate everyone and everything the way the beer company says it can. We can, however, tell everyone how the Lord of everything loves them and is calling them to a life of joy and hope.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few,” Jesus said (Matthew 7:13–14).
Looking for something easy? This Bud’s for you.
Looking for something that makes everything new? This gospel’s for you.