As the hangover from Bud Light’s infamous “Dylan” experiment continues to fester, parent company Anheuser-Busch yesterday unveiled a new television ad that leverages the disco hit “Good Times” by the band Chic. Great song, but this will be another failed attempt to stem the tide, stop the bleeding, and make things right (pun intended) with customers who have boycotted the brand. So far, the reactions on Twitter have not been too kind to the beer maker, as posted here and here.
Over the last 10 weeks, sales of Bud Light have plummeted. For the week ending June 3, Bud Light sales were down 24.4% compared to a year ago, according to data provided by Bump Williams Consulting. Serendipitously, competitors Coors Light and Miller Lite have benefitted. Coors Light sales increased by 25.8% and Miller Lite rose by 21.4% over the same period. Additionally, Modelo Especial replaced Anheuser-Busch as the top-selling beer maker on a dollar basis for the four-week and single-week period ending June 3.
Since the debacle in April, Anheuser-Busch has mishandled the backlash. They issued two statements, replaced marketing executives, and introduced marketing campaigns to reconnect with their dismayed customers. None of this has moved the needle in the right direction.
Beer industry brand strategist Ethan Stienstra offered insight on how Bud Light can bounce back from this debacle. He suggested the company return to fun, self-deprecating marketing and television commercials that closely align with the DNA of its target audience.
This will NOT work. Unless Anheuser-Busch clears the air and apologizes.
When in a crisis, the playbook is to acknowledge and apologize quickly, then take action and communicate profusely. Taking ownership and conveying empathy are critical to rebuilding trust and credibility.
Anheuser-Busch missed the critical step… Sure they acknowledged the issue and attempted to take action by changing course and investing millions to help everyone impacted in the supply chain, including the distributors, retailers, and delivery personnel. But they have yet to apologize.
Without a genuine apology, Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light will continue to squander their corporate and brand reputation as well as their market share and valuation.
Anheuser-Busch, if you want to bring back the good times, try this…
And if you really want to underscore your penance, put those powerful words on your bottles and cans.