The Bud Light HR Blunder
With a big PR problem on their hands, a boycott by their core consumers, and a $6bn market cap shrinkage, the brass at Bud Light is now in full damage control mode.
“New Coke” all over again? To a degree, yes. Bud Light drinkers have traditional values, and they don’t want “their” brand to change. That’s Bud’s brand equity.
These events are symptomatic of tensions between ideology and market reality.
Anheuser-Busch wants to score high in DEI/ESG. They want a share of Gen Z’s future cash-flows.
But Gen-Zers don’t have the Budweiser culture, and most don’t really like beer. To them, “bud” refers to weed.
So Anheuser-Busch hires a young Ivy-League grad convinced she can change the world, and they launch their East Coast “champ” into the crucible of a hot midwestern NASCAR arena.
Wrong driver, wrong car, wrong race.
Bud Light’s brand image is so deeply seared in our minds, it can’t change quickly. It would be a long evolution, not a revolution.
Ideologues dream of revolutions.
Alissa Heinerscheid fits the type. She sets herself as the heroin of brutal change. Read her lips: “clear mandate”, “elevate”, “no future”… Big buzzwords, huge conceit, out-of-touch deafness.
Marketing misstep? Sure, a big one. But more fundamentally, an HR blunder. Ms. Heinerscheid could be the right person somewhere else. But her personality and values are ill-fitted for the Bud Light brand.
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