Radio Host Records Simple 'Experiment,' Shows the Depth of the Problem Bud Light Faces
It’s what going woke and going broke looks like in microcosm.
Over the weekend, Tennessee-based conservative radio host Clay Travis recorded an “experiment” he shared with his more than 1 million Twitter followers. During a Nashville-area event, he took video of what a cooler of beer looked like at the beginning of the night, with several different kinds of brew in there.
At the end of the evening, there was only one type of beer left: Bud Light. And boy, was there plenty of it.
The experience is the latest bit of anecdotal evidence which confirms what the data seems to show — Bud Light is pretty much reeling after a boycott initiated by conservatives after an ad campaign with transgender “influencer” Dylan Mulvaney fell flat.
Sales are down by roughly a quarter and Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bud Light’s maker, has been reduced to giving out free cases of beer to distributors disgruntled over the company’s decision to place politics over sales.
However, if you can’t give the beer away to customers, it doesn’t matter how much you give away to distributors. That was the problem Travis highlighted during the event in Franklin, a city about 20 miles south of Nashville.
He began by taking video of a cooler in the VIP section of an event at 6:45 p.m. There were three types of beer in there: Yuengling, Michelob Ultra and Bud Light.
Travis promised to return at 9:45 to see what it looked like. He ended up back there at 10:15 — and lo and behold, there was only Bud Light left.
“I’m not a marketing expert, but the only beer left … Bud Light,” he said in the video. “Bad idea. Not good.”
“No one would take the Bud Light all night long,” he wrote. “Big issue going forward for Bud Light is many don’t even want to be seen with product. They just pick another brand.”
Weekend experiment. Beers in cooler at Nashville area event. Pick which beer you want. No one would take the Bud Light all night long. Big issue going forward for Bud Light is many don’t even want to be seen with product. They just pick another brand. pic.twitter.com/UleRAjdLTc
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) May 8, 2023
In the first video, Travis acknowledged that Michelob Ultra is also an Anheuser-Busch brand, but dismissed the importance of that versus the perception problem that the “Bud Light” label now carries.
“Overall consumption of Bud Light is now down 26%. That’s an unmitigated disaster for the brand. And many are now avoiding the beer to avoid being mocked for drinking the beer,” he wrote in a follow-up tweet.
“There’s no quick fix here, brand is slaughtered in red state beer drinking communities. Bet there is hardly any at SEC tailgates this fall.”
Overall consumption of Bud Light is now down 26%. That’s an unmitigated disaster for the brand. And many are now avoiding the beer to avoid being mocked for drinking the beer. There’s no quick fix here, brand is slaughtered in red state beer drinking communities. Bet there is…
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) May 8, 2023
That’s what the brand is desperate to avoid. According to Fox Business, Anheuser-Busch’s CEO told investors during an earnings call last Thursday it planned to triple media spending on the brand over the summer and called the boycott “misinformation,” insisting the brand would quickly recover and promising it would be “providing direct financial support” to distributors, bar owners and delivery drivers affected by the drop.
“We believe we have the experience, the resources and the partners to manage this. And our four-year growth outlook is unchanged,” CEO Michel Doukeris said.
“We want to reiterate our support for our wholesaler partners and everyone who brings our great beers to the market. I can tell you that we have the agility, resources and people to support the U.S. team and move forward,” he added.
The group is also trying to woo Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill, with a blitz from a lobbying firm founded by a former GOP Senate aide.
A conservative group, the American Accountability Foundation, blasted the efforts, saying the lobbyists were “making the rounds on the Hill trying to red-wash Bud Light’s disastrous decision to partner with a man pretending to be a woman and tell you the company really does respect conservative values.”
“If Bud Light wants to regain the trust of conservative customers, they should apologize for insulting their values by embracing the woke left’s radical gender agenda instead of wasting their money on lobbyists,” the AAF said.
“Bud Light sided with the Left against the average American and no amount of D.C. lobbyists in fancy suits will make them forget that.”
In addition to the behind-the-scenes efforts, there’s also been “Murica”-tastic advertising like this for the Budweiser brand:
— Budweiser (@budweiserusa) April 14, 2023
Meanwhile, however, there are plenty of reports that indicate Travis isn’t alone — including this one from a crowded Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park where, despite long lines at other vendors, there was nobody buying Bud Light.
If this is happening in Boston — hardly a hotbed of conservative fervor — imagine what’s happening in the rest of America.
Like it or not, the Mulvaney campaign is going to define the Bud Light brand in the same way that certain gaffes have defined politicians. That’s because it was, in many ways, a politician’s gaffe.
The woke marketing execs in charge of the brand decided they needed to reinvent it. In the process, they horribly misread their buyers — and now, they’re going to be paying for it for a long, long time to come.
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