Bud Light is being criticized after pandering to lost customers with a county-themed commercial and preventing viewers from offering feedback by disabling the comments on YouTube.
The commercial, which debuted during the Thursday NFL Draft and was later published to YouTube, shows four friends opening cans of Bud Light at a country music festival as the song Chicken Fried by the Zac Brown Band plays.
It is one of a number of commercials released by the company since the partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney at the beginning of April caused sales to plummet.
The commercial is a clear nod to American country music and its fans, and designed to appeal to the humor of its more traditional market, much of which was alienated by the controversy.
Bud Light is being criticized after pandering to lost customers with a commercial in which a group of friends drink Bud Light at a country festival as Chicken Friend plays in the background
In the three days since the 30-second video was released it has accrued more than 8 million views, but received less than 200 likes. By comparison, the song Chicken Fried was uploaded 14 years ago and has 135 million views and 571,000 likes.
It is not clear how many users disliked the new commercial – in 2021 YouTube removed a feature allowing the public to see how many dislikes a video has. Some people argued at the time in doing so it was catering to large corporations that would often become the victims of ‘dislike attacks’.
Disabling the comments on YouTube did not stop viewers from discussing the advert on Twitter. ‘Real smart, piss off that demographic, then cynically try to lure them back with this. Don’t fall for it,’ one user wrote.
‘Re Bud Light’s use of Zach Brown’s “Chicken Fried” during the NFL draft to stop the sales dive. Nice try, but nah. Made it worse. You revealed how intentional your trans promotion was. You knew. You chose. You didn’t care. It only takes once to show us who you really are,’ wrote another.
A story in the online sports publication OutKick described the move as cowardly.
An opinion piece in published by Bloomberg used similar language and described the move by Bud Light as setting a ‘new low in corporate courage.’
‘Kicking a political hornet’s nest for clicks and giggles before running away is no way to elevate a brand or promote a cause,’ wrote Ben Schott, the publication’s advertising and brands columnist.
The country fair commercial was released a day before Mulvaney herself returned to social media for the first time since the backlash.
She pledged to continue sharing content on social media and added: ‘I don’t know if reincarnation is a thing, but in my next life, I would love to be someone non confrontational and uncontroversial.’
The camera pans up to reveal the tents at the fair and a man in a cowboy hat
The commercial, which debuted during the Thursday NFL Draft and was later published to YouTube, had more than 8 million views as of Sunday, but less than 200 likes
Evidence of how the Bud Light partnership with Mulvaney damaged the way the brand was evident in a viral video posted by Kid Rock, a popular musician who specialized in southern rock, rap and songs with country elements.
Kid Rock posted a video in which he shot a case of Bud Light beers with an automatic rifle and said, while wearing a MAGA hat, that he wanted to send a ‘clear and concise’ message.
‘F*** Bud Light, and f*** Anheuser-Busch. Have a terrific day,’ he said.
The outrage quickly spread across social media and conservative politicians and celebrities also shared their opposition to the partnership.
Country star Brantley Gilbert protested the partnership while performing at Indian Mountain ATV Park in Piedmont, Alabama.
He was tossed a can of the beer onstage but he took a look at the beer and exclaimed: ‘F**k that!’ He then smashed the can of Bud Light to the ground before being tossed a different brand of beer.
Anheuser-Busch has placed two executives on leave over the Bud Light partnership.
Daniel Blake, who is the Anheuser-Busch vice president for mainstream brands, stepped back from his job last week, just days after Bud Light’s VP of marketing Alissa Heinerscheid took a leave of absence.
Alissa Heinerscheid, the brand’s vice president of marketing, has taken a leave of absence
Blake is Heinerscheid’s boss and the move highlights the turmoil at the multinational business, which is valued at more than $100 billion.
The company said the bosses ‘decided’ to temporarily step down, but their decisions were reportedly not voluntary.
Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth said on April 14: ‘We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer,’ said Whitworth in the statement.
He added: ‘My time serving this country taught me the importance of accountability and the values upon which America was founded: freedom, hard work and respect from one another.’