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Bud Light rolls out a new ad campaign to turn around slumping sales

<i>Bud Light</i><br/>Bud Light rolls out a new ad for its summer campaign.
Bud Light
Bud Light rolls out a new ad for its summer campaign.

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

New York (CNN) — Bud Light is trying to revive its slumping brand with a new marketing campaign aimed at – appropriately – overcoming adversity.

The struggling beer brand unveiled a new ad following its Dylan Mulvaney controversy: The transgender influencer posed with a custom can of Bud Light, and right-wing media and anti-trans commenters on social media unleashed a fury of negative and hateful attention on the brand. The company’s lackluster response also angered LGBTQ+ advocates.

The resulting backlash sunk sales sharply and resulted in a series of violent threats against employees.

The company hopes its new 60-second spot, set to the 1979 disco hit “Good Times” by the band Chic, can bring back customers. It shows people enjoying Bud Light despite facing some of summer’s biggest pain points, like sunburn or a sudden thunderstorm during a cook out. The ad was posted to YouTube on Thursday and the brand has turned off the ability to add comments.

In addition to the new spot, Bud Light’s broader ad campaign for summer includes partnerships with country singers to bring concerts to fans’ backyards and new ads featuring NFL players, including Travis Kelce and Dak Prescott, set to roll out in a few weeks. It’s also giving away $10,000 weekly to drinkers to “make summer easy to enjoy and stock up for all the backyard parties,” according to a press release.

The new ad is a continuation of its “Easy to Drink, Easy to Enjoy” that made its debut during this year’s Super Bowl. That spot featured actor Miles Teller and his wife Keleigh Sperry dancing and relaxing at home with a Bud Light.

The purpose of that ad was to introduce a “new era” of the brand to younger drinkers, according to a Anheuser-Busch executive, who told CNN in January that the brand wanted to “bring in new life and a new point of view” for the 41-year-old brand.

But after it sent a customized can to Mulvaney, the brand sparked a transphobic backlash from conservatives. That led to Alissa Heinerscheid, Bud Light’s vice president of marketing and the first woman in the brand’s history to work in the role, to be placed on leave from the beer brand. Todd Allen, who was most recently Budweiser’s vice president of global marketing, is now leading Bud Light’s marketing.

A response from Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Brendan Whitworth, in which he never mentioned specifics of the issue, said that the company was “in the business of bringing people together over a beer.” That led the Human Rights Campaign to say it was “disturbed” by the company’s response, and A-B subsequently had its top LGBTQ+ rating revoked.

Earlier this week, A-B InBev’s top marketing executive also spoke out about the campaign.

“When things get divisive and controversial so easily, I think it’s an important wake-up call to all of us marketers to be very humble,” said Marcel Marcondes, A-B’s global chief marketing officer, at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity Monday.

“It’s tough to see all the controversial and divisive debates happening in the US the last couple of weeks involving lots of brands and companies, including, especially, Bud Light,” Marcondes told the audience. He said brands in this situation should remain open to learning and understanding their customers.

In May, Mexican lager Modelo Especial dethroned Bud Light as America’s top-selling beer, a title the brand held largely for more than two decades. Bud Light sales plunged 24% during the four weeks ending June 3, according to NIQ data provided to consulting firm Bump Williams. Bud Light, however, remains the country’s top-selling beer year-to-date.

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CNN’s Matt Egan contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Business/Consumer

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