Bud light has made a name for itself with silly ads and frat boy humor, but the beer maker is trying to grow up. And it appears that attempt has been met with some backlash. When Bud Light partnered with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney, it caused a ruckus that saw Anheuser-Busch stock fall and many of its customers calling for a boycott.
The company responded by placing the executive overseeing Bud Light marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid, on leave and naming a replacement. The controversy also saw the brand take a hit in terms of its customer service. In our recent survey on Customer Service Experience, Bud Light received an NPS score of 15 out of 100. NPS is a measurement of how likely customers are to recommend the product or service to a friend or colleague. Those who give a score of 9 or 10 are considered Promoters and often act as brand ambassadors, driving customer acquisition and retention for their favorite brands. Those who give a score of 0 or 6 are referred to as Detractors and have negative perceptions of the brand, which can have a significant impact on sales.
For a company that is trying to appeal to female consumers, the controversy over Bud Light has been particularly damaging. A number of conservative outlets and social media users have called for a boycott of the brand. Country musician Kid Rock even took to Instagram with a video of himself shooting cans of Bud Light. The company has tried to calm the waters by releasing an ad featuring Miles Teller and his wife, Keleigh Sperry, doing a little dancing while waiting on hold for customer service.
A satirical website even published a fake headline declaring that Anheuser-Busch had fired Heinerscheid and her entire marketing team over the incident, though the company later clarified to reporters that it had not.
Despite the controversy, Bud Light is still the best-selling beer in the United States. And while some of the brand’s traditional core customers feel betrayed by its LGBTQ outreach and alliance with a transgender activist, others are happy to see Bud Light make an effort to be more inclusive.
One liquor store owner told me that he had seen a drop in Bud Light sales since the controversy came to light, but he was confident that the boycott would not last. He expects sales to rebound once the news cycle dies down.
And that may prove to be true. While some of the ad’s critics have claimed that they will never drink Bud Light again, Heinerscheid and her team seem to have learned a valuable lesson: The company should stick to its roots but be willing to adjust for changing times and a shifting culture. And, in the end, that will probably be good for the business. Bud light customer service