Bud Light might seem emblematic of the cultural divide between red and blue America. But it turns out Swiffer is polarizing too.
The Procter & Gamble Co. brand had a polarized fan base long before Bud Light faced backlash this spring over its affiliation with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, with a 24-point favorability gap for Republicans (net positive sentiment 78%) vs. Democrats (54%) over two years from July 2021 to June 2023, according to data from Engagement Labs, which conducts regular surveys regarding how Americans talk about brands face-to-face, not on social media.
That’s more polarizing than the supposedly red-leaning Paramount+ TV series “Yellowstone” (19-point favorability edge among Republicans). DiGorno frozen pizza and State Farm (both Democrat-leaning) and Costco's Kirkland private label (heavily Republican) are among other surprisingly polarized brands.
Bud Light, for its part, was pretty equally loved by Republicans and Democrats before its affiliation with Mulvaney captured headlines in April, according to Engagement Labs. In April, net sentiment was close to 60% positive on the Anheuser-Busch InBev brand between Democrats and Republicans alike in Engagement Labs surveys. By June, rolling 26-week net sentiment for Bud Light dropped under 20% for Republicans while staying at 60% for Democrats.
Among lessons from a two-year look back on brand polarization from Engagement Labs surveys is that while news can drive division, many brands have big, and sometimes inexplicable, divides in preference among Republicans and Democrats without getting caught up in the culture wars. So it makes sense for brand marketers to understand the political bent of their consumers before they decide to take public stands on polarizing issues, according to Brad Fay, co-founder and chief commercial officer of Engagement Labs.