After nearly a year of suffering sales since Bud Light’s fateful partnership with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney, the beleaguered brand is still looking to make a comeback.
Parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev is spending big on Super Bowl ads and forming new partnerships in an effort to rekindle Americans’ affinity for the beer that reigned as top-seller in the U.S. for more than two decades before its fall.
While Bud Light may not be restored to its former glory any time soon, one expert believes it does have an opportunity for redemption, and the strides the company is making now are going in the right direction.
Terry Schilling is the president of the American Principles Project, a group that likens itself as the special interest arm of the American family.
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He says the reason Bud Light received so much backlash is that frustration had already been building among much of the American public over radical cultural change being pushed by the media and elite levels of our institutions. So when Bud Light – a brand everyday Americans loved – decided to “push” those changes, too, it presented the first opportunity for consumers to respond and strike back.
“Bud Light does this thing with Dylan Mulvaney that is so against their customer base – the people that made that company successful and profitable – it is a finger in their eye,” Schilling told FOX Business in an interview. “Bud Light became the cultural whipping boy for stepping in it, and they deserved it.”
Schilling pointed to the messaging that came out from Bud Light’s former marketing vice president at the time, who revealed her agenda to transform what she viewed as the fraternity boy-type image of the brand to appeal to other audiences.
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“It failed in an incredible way,” Schilling said. “So now the question is, can they repair their image? I do think they can repair it, and frankly, I hope they do, because Bud Light and Budweiser are important American institutions. It’s important that we have brands that we’re proud of, and I really do hope that they turn this around.”
Schilling said Bud Light, so far, is making the right moves to return to its original branding that was so successful in the past. He praised the company for its recently-announced partnerships with comedians Shane Gillis and Ken Patterson, saying they are in-line with what Bud Light customers expect.
Schilling says the American people are forgiving, but customers will be watching closely, so if Bud Light “steps in it” again with another mistake, it would be “the death knell,” and the brand would be “unsalvageable” at that point.
He believes Anheuser-Busch and its brands deserve another shot and believes the American people will give it to them – eventually.
“I think the big message is to stay out of the culture war. Serve your customer base, serve your clients and respect them,” he said, asking rhetorically, “Was it worth it?”
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