Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) has just gotten a lesson on the power of social media.
After a firestorm of criticism online, the beer maker is dropping a new ad campaign slogan from its Bud Light bottles. The line, “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night," has been blasted in the Twittersphere by critics claiming it encourages rape. The company is now retreating, using its Twitter (TWTR) feed to apologize, saying, “We missed the mark on a new Bud Light label, and we regret it."
Yahoo Finance Editor in Chief Andy Serwer is dumbfounded by Budweiser’s decision to include that phrase as part of its “Up for Whatever” campaign.
“Sex has been used to sell alcohol since time immemorial,” he notes. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen non-consensual sex to sell alcohol. I mean, what were they thinking?”
Serwer wonders about those calling the shots at the world’s biggest beer maker.
“It just blows my mind,” he says. “How do these things get through and get approved and moved all the way up the food chain?”
Yahoo Senior Columnist Michael Santoli understands what Budweiser was trying to do…he just doesn’t get why they did it this way.
“Obviously, you have a company that says 'we want this product to represent spontaneity,' and the whole Bud Light ad campaign recently is about that-- just kind of leave yourself open to what the night brings,” he explains. “But the actual phrasing here is so clunky and terrible I can’t believe it.”
Serwer points out what's happened here is a very good message to companies about the impact of social media.
“You’re connected to your customers like never before,” he explains. “We keep saying that, and it’s true.”
Santoli adds the speed of social media messaging forces businesses to react quicker than they ever have before to criticism
“It flares up so fast, it doesn’t really build slowly with people talking about it,” he says. “It kind of gets to this critical level and almost demands a response.”
Serwer notes even Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) joined in on the Twitter storm against Bud.
“They did respond pretty quickly,” he notes. “But when a Congressperson says this encourages rape, you usually respond pretty quickly to that.”
And Serwer jokes perhaps there was a logical explanation why a beer maker might make this mistake.
“Maybe they were drinking,” he laughs.