Service of Marketing Slipups for Bud Light & Twitter

May 14th, 2015

Categories: Advertising, Marketing, Mistakes, Technology

  Oh no 1

Is there a single soul who hasn’t felt that heart-sinking feeling of “Oh no!” after clicking on “enter” or “continue” whether they’ve inadvertently sent an email to the wrong person, allowed spell check to have its way with them or incorrectly completed an online form due to a runaway autofill function on a computer.

sendSome missteps can be avoided with a diverse marketing team—I suspect the first example occurred because decision makers were all men. Others are due to computer glitches that will happen increasingly as corporations race to market a service with insufficiently tested technology.

Don’t Take This Lightly

Budweiser ClydesdalesErica Martell sent me “Bud Light Label Snafu Teaches the Value of Proper Message Vetting,” by Christine Birkner in Marketing News Weekly. Birkner wrote: “On April 28, Leuven, Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev NV pulled Bud Light labels with the message: ‘The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night. #UpForWhatever.’ The label messaging had ignited a social media firestorm because some consumers perceived it as promoting rape culture.”

I don’t know about you but that was the first thing I thought of. The label was part of the brand’s #UpForWhatever campaign to appeal to ingratiate themselves with millennials with a devil-may-care approach to life. In addition, Bud Light created a beer festival in Crested Butte, Colo, a town they renamed “Whatever, USA.”

According to Birkner here were some of the reactions:

  • “A petition asked A-B InBev to remove the labels, stating, ‘The brand is blatantly linking their product to sexually assaulting people while under the influence of alcohol.’”
  • “The Center for Reproductive Rights tweeted: ‘So gross. Nope, definitely not #UpForWhatever.’” 
  •  “Other marketplace responses on Twitter included comments such as, ‘Budweiser execs  should be ashamed,’” and,
  • “‘Maybe I’ll drink a bunch of @budlight & then drive a bulldozer into their corporate headquarters, since I’ll be #UpForWhatever.’”
  • “Twitter users created a hashtag in response to the label: #UpForThingsIExplicitlyConsentTo.”


Bird with bugSpeaking of Twitter, in Social Media & Marketing Daily Erik Sass wrote “Whoops: Twitter Runs Ads Next to Porn.” Sass wrote that affected brands included Nielsen, Duane Reade, NBCUniversal, and Gatorade.

Sass credits Adweek, which broke the story, and continued: “The Promoted Tweets appeared in Twitter feeds that were clearly inappropriate, with profile names like ‘Daily Dick Pictures,’ helpful purveyor of all your day-to-day dick pic needs, and ‘Homemade Porn,’ which sounds nice and crafty. The naughty ad placements apparently resulted from a bug, and unsurprisingly marketers are suspending their campaigns until Twitter fixes the technical glitch.”

All male boardroomCan you share other examples of lamebrained marketing? In the Bud Light case, does it happen because the marketers are too rushed or, as I suggest above, all male? Given that Bud is now owned by a Belgium-based company, might it be an example of global marketing run amok? As for Twitter, in its rush to sell ads, did it jump the gun before its staff understood how to use the technology or was someone in the digital layout department not paying attention–simultaneously tweeting friends, perhaps?


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8 Responses to “Service of Marketing Slipups for Bud Light & Twitter”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    The reaction was laughter upon learning about the so called Bud blooper. Everyone is taking themselves so seriously these days, that there’s no room left for humor. Squeaky clean is the nouveau chic, and if the ads aren’t scrubbed to a milky white blandness, a torrent of self-righteous abusive tweets and twitters follow.

    I don’t drink Budweiser, but have enjoyed their ads. The 21st Century Puritans will make certain any attempt at future fun and games is properly snuffed out. If marketers notice a decrease in interest in their efforts, the reason should be staring them in the face.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I like the town renamed “Whatever USA” in the campaign but don’t think violence is funny. I love to laugh and appreciate clever wording but the beer label was neither funny nor clever. I learned early on to rethink a headline that a client doesn’t “get” even though I think I’ve written a fabulous play on words or given it a twist that I think hilariously funny. These marketers—especially if English isn’t their first language or if they are not American, as humor rarely translates–would do well to open up their strategy meetings to others.

  3. CG Said:

    Jeanne, I agree with every word in your response. Regarding Budweiser, I doubt if the nitwits who launched the #UpForWhatever campaign have young daughters, or even young sons. And if they do, those idiots need lessons in parenting. Maybe the objective of the Budweiser execs was to create a firestorm?

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m not new to all-male marketers coming up with a campaign with a clumsy sexual connotation. It happened right after I changed jobs and no longer represented the team/product. They confused advertising for a brand such as Victoria’s Secret with their home dec product and the initiative was, in addition to embarrassing, not targeted to women and women represented 80 percent of their market. Big sigh.

    I assume that 80 percent of their market is men because I don’t think that young women will take to a brand that recommends harming them. You could be right about creating a firestorm. If true, too bad they took an unattractive and lazy way to do it.

  5. Simon Carr Said:

    I suspect the fault for these slipups lies with our excessive reliance on technology.

    Watching a master Murano glassblower fashion a blob of glass at the end of his pipe into an elegant sculpture, or the hands of a wizened old peasant woman deep in the French countryside as they move faster than the eye can follow weaving an intricate piece of lace, has always awed me. Skilled craftsmen, just as skilled marketers, can do work of a quality that no machine will ever duplicate.

    If you have ever visited an automated factory, full of machines and empty of people, you wonder how the few people that are there can stay awake. They seem to have little to do. Craftsmen who do not work hard to ply their trade soon lose their edge, and eventually their craft.

    Marketers who let themselves be lulled into relying on spellcheck and the like, instead of their own instinctive editing skills, eventually, through no fault of their own, lose the ability to contemplate as intensely the essence of what they are doing. Hence, mistakes like the ones you describe are far more common today than they used to be.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Long before today’s technology there were major marketing goofs. In marketing courses of yore you were told about the Nova that didn’t sell well in Texas and Southern California because of the Spanish speaking population that didn’t want to buy a car that wouldn’t go. In addition to tales of major corporations who enter a foreign country with their American approaches wondering why they don’t work in a different culture, there are piles of naming mistakes here like Nova and campaign misfires.

    The Twitter goof is probably due to a glitch in technology or as, you wrote, a bored person who was clicking without thinking or looking and ended up with disgruntled clients. The irony is that the speedy technology that gives Twitter a raison d’être is the same one that spreads the word around the world of their errors in seconds.

  7. EAM Said:

    I wanted to take a moment to chime in on Bud Light’s lazy and lame marketing toward millenials. Clearly, they underestimated the influence of female purchasing power. Short sightedness on the side of the ad agency.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Good point. Clearly the ad agency didn’t do its homework and perhaps the team was made up of millenials who order out and haven’t visited a grocery store since they accompanied their mom when they were little.

    Anecdotally I’d guess that more women than men do the grocery shopping so that even if they don’t drink as much Bud as men [and I have no idea what this statistic is], they’d likely be the one to buy it. In an excerpt of a 2008 study by The Time Use Institute “Grocery Shopping: Who, Where, When” I read “Women account for nearly two-thirds of all grocery shoppers.” In another study reported by Progressive Grocer, “Women Dominate Grocery Shopping: Study.” The study was commissioned by the Private Label manufacturers Association. It would have taken the agency less than five minutes to find this out and another five to go on to the next idea.

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