Here we go again. A company unveils a marketing campaign deemed “woke” by some on the right, and calls for a boycott instantly erupt.
In this case, the offending brand is Bud Light, that bastion of progressive thinking, which partnered with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney for a new campaign.
Kid Rock and other noteworthy conservatives were shocked, shocked to see Bud Light’s parent, Anheuser Busch, so flagrantly courting LGBTQ consumers.
For reasons of propriety, I won’t link to the YouTube video in which Kid Rock opens fire on cases of Bud Light with a rifle and then expresses his unsubtle stance with a middle finger and the F-word.
It’s a pattern we’ve seen before in recent years, from Nike catching heat for partnering with social-justice advocate Colin Kaepernick to M&M’s drawing fire for … well, I have no idea; something to do with sexy footwear on cartoon candies, I think.
There’s one school of thought that says “get woke go broke.” Which is to say, if a brand adopts a progressive-seeming stance, right-wing consumers will take their business elsewhere.
But marketing experts say it’s better to be inclusive than to cater to narrow ideological interests.
“There have been many cases of brands growing their business as a result of taking a strong stand that resulted in some criticism, but even stronger engagement with a key audience,” Tim Leake, chief marketing officer at ad agency RPA, told CNN.
Brendan Whitworth, Anheuser-Busch’s CEO, expressed regret Friday that things have gotten so out of hand.
“We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people,” he said in a statement. “We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”
Alissa Heinerscheid, vice president of marketing for Bud Light, said in a recent podcast interview that the smart play is to reach out to all consumers.
“If we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand, there will be no future for Bud Light,” she said, noting that Bud Light had “been in decline for a really long time.”
It’s not about “get woke go broke.” It’s about “go big or go home.”
“Brands today want to be inclusive, they want to be relevant, especially with young people,” Tim Calkins of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management told CNN.
It’s not rocket science. The more shoppers you appeal to, the more likely it is you’ll sell your product.
Maybe the solution here, at least for certain consumers, isn’t to force businesses to reflect your personal beliefs.
It’s to respect that it takes all kinds.
Don’t like Bud Light’s marketing choices? Don’t buy Bud Light. That’s your choice.
Shooting up cases of beer and acting like a thug says more about you than it does the product.