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Bud Light put two marketing executives on leave after someone thought it was a good idea to appeal to a transgender crowd that makes up less than one percent of the population. That promotional campaign backfired with unintended consequences, cutting into sales (-25%) and stock price (-13%). Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary called Bud Light the “poster boy for brand mismanagement.” Even worse, sales have dropped not only for Bud Light, but for other Anheuser-Busch brands, too. The June 5, 2023 issue of London’s Daily Mail says Anheuser-Busch lost $6 billion in 6 days. How’s that for unintended consequences?

Beer Marketing 2023

Mass-market domestic beers’ share of alcohol sales is declining as more people shift to imports, craft beers, hard ciders, and seltzers. Candied alcohol gets bigger every year, flavored with fruits and sweeteners for people who like the effect of alcohol but not the taste.

More than 6 of every 10 American adults drink alcohol

Among them, beer is consistently the favorite. According to the National Institutes of Health, alcohol consumption is a male-dominated activity and has been that way for a long time.

Males drink more often and more heavily than females, consuming three times as much alcohol

This would lead most people to conclude that the core audience for beer in the USA is males. Other targets include male and female NASCAR fans, sports fans, blue-collar workers, no-collar workers, and golfers.

Light beer

Miller Lite arrived to much hoopla in 1973 and had the category to itself until Anheuser-Busch introduced Bud Lite in 1982 with a series of highly creative television commercials. At the time, regular Budweiser beer (the King of Beers) outranked regular Miller High Life beer (the Champagne of Bottle Beers) in popularity and sales. Bud Light rode Budweiser’s coattails to light beer market dominance in the USA.

Data from 2019 show three brands dominating the U.S. market beer market

All of them were light beers. First-place Bud Light shipped 29 million barrels, more than Coors Light (#2 with 15 million) and Miller Lite (#3 with 13 million) combined.

Speaking of NASCAR

When marketing execs for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing said it was time to broaden its appeal to new customer groups, decision-makers were convinced it was a good idea. It didn’t take long before they were surprised at how much their actions alienated their existing customer base. Viewership dropped 10% in the first year, 19% in the second, and 38% in the third. Ouch.

We never thought of that

Surely someone over at Bud Light was aware of NASCAR’s blunder because Budweiser is a long-time sponsor of NASCAR. And if they were aware of the dangers of alienating long-standing customers, two questions arise: 

  1. Did no one mention NASCAR’s mistake? 
  2. Was it mentioned and ignored?

If it’s the first, were people too scared to say? Did consultants fail to warn Bud Light of potential dangers? If it’s the second, then someone else should be working on a new strategy to win back millions of core customers.


Writers on social media frantically scan headlines in the hope they will be among the first to break a story. Many don’t bother to check the facts. This combination is like pulling wings off flies for the scamps over at The Dunning-Kruger Times, who say “Everything on this website is fiction. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined.”

The Dunning-Kruger Times

It’s a satirical website, much like The Onion, The Borowitz Report, The Babylon Bee, and others. 

Their online publication is founded on the notion that some people who know very little believe themselves to be well-informed. The same stories get picked up and passed along by the blithely ignorant, who don’t bother to read The Dunning-Kruger Times home page: “We exclusively use humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.” 

In spite of this crystal-clear disclaimer, lots of people read the stories and rushed off, confident they had big news. Schadenfreuders* who want Bud Light to fail skim the news, looking for new examples of backlash, all the while not knowing someone is pulling their chains.

Bud Light stories by the Dunning-Kruger Times

Anheuser Busch Will Discontinue and Re-Brand Bud Light: Anheuser Busch admits that the Dylan Mulvaney partnership was a horrible idea that irreparably harmed the iconic beer and will discontinue it when the current production run ends. CEO Jow Barron says it’s a necessary switch and that he “looks forward to working with marketing directors suggested by Kid Rock to relaunch the all-new ‘Bud Zero.’ Bud Zero will offer zero carbs, zero sugars, zero calories, and in keeping in tradition with Budweiser products, zero flavor. The morons complaining that their pisswater is gay will love it,” said Mulvaney.

Bud Light Now On Sale for Under $5 a Case: “So, as an apology to the fruitcakes who decided to ‘shoot up’ and boycott our beer, we’re basically giving it away now. We never realized that these dumb bigoted morons like Kid Rock would explode in their panties from it.”

NASCAR Ends $88 Million Sponsorship Deal with Bud Light: The site said the motor racing giant would be looking to end its deal with Anheuser-Busch. “Many fat and lethargic beer drinkers have made the diabetes-influenced decision to switch to Coors Light instead, driving that company’s stock up 68%.  But, as we’ll see in an upcoming article as well, Coors is also woke, with their rainbow advertising and cans featuring photos of naked drag queen Ru Paul.”

The Dunning-Kruger effect 

Regular readers know that people who are incompetent about something cannot recognize their own incompetence. People who don’t know how little they know can’t be bothered with self-doubt. Falsely believing they have no need for facts, the oblivious ignorant don’t bother to take a closer look because for them, fact-finding is unpleasantly effortful, annoying, and a waste of time. Experts call this active information avoidance.

In case you’re still wondering who the target market is

Next time you’re in a convenience store, check out the beer displays. When it comes to selling beer, the trusty point-of-purchase advertising staple is life-sized cutouts of come-hither bikini models that lure young men to stacks of beer cases as surely as the sirens of Greek mythology enticed young sailors to their doom.

If you made the decisions at Bud Light

Would you approve the marketing executive’s proposal to appeal to a minuscule market segment at the risk of alienating the people who are loyal customers and who pay the bills? Me, neither.

 * * *


Please consider all the numbers in this article to be “soft.” There are too many overlapping categories to unpack for proper comparison. Here’s an example:

Bud Light’s CEO, trying to soothe nervous investors, hid the bad news by announcing that “the dip represented just 1% of overall global volumes for the period.” This useless piece of information deftly downplays the negative fallout of recent months by never mentioning Bud Light’s losses, the fact that it’s only one of 28 Budweiser products, or with worldwide sales of all Anheuser-Busch InBev products at $55 billion dollars, 1% of that is $550 million. And it’s not over yet.

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