Bud Light has suffered a downward spiral in the wake of its partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Conservatives boycotted the brand; progressives complained that the brand failed to support Mulvaney in the face of that pressure; U.S. sales and market share have tanked; and Bud Light shook up its marketing leadership team at the U.S. level.
Marcondes said AB InBev's marketing team has been “learning a lot” from the situation and has reached two conclusions. First, he said, “companies and brands must be driven by their values. We are a beer company. Beer is for everyone.”
But he added that the company must also strive to understand all segments of its customer base, and must endeavor not to create marketing that is divisive.
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“In times like this, when things get divisive and controversial so easily, I think it’s an important wake-up call to all of us marketers first of all to be very humble,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing, being very humble, and really reminding ourselves of what we should do best every day, which is to really understand our consumers. Which is to really celebrate and appreciate every consumer that loves our brands—but in a way that can make them be together, not apart.”
Marcondes seemed to indicate that Bud Light can reconcile these sometimes conflicting goals—being values-driven but also not being divisive—by clarifying what the brand stands for. Rather than standing for anything political, he suggested, the brand simply stands for enjoyment and togetherness.
“That’s what Bud Light stands for—it exists to make beer easy to drink and easy to enjoy,” he said. “That’s what we all, as a team, will be doing moving forward as a group. That’s what leaders do. Bud Light is coming back. It’s going all around the country, reconnecting with consumers, moving forward. That’s what you can expect from Bud Light in the U.S.”