Brands are fragile. In fact, they are more fragile now than ever before. But why is that? One reason is because brands are now on social media. Customers use places such as Twitter or Facebook to express their experiences with a company’s product or service. This allows consumers to be much more informed than they used to be.
Therefore, anything you say, any statements your customers verbalize, and anything your team decides to share can all affect your brand and its reputation. You are constantly being watched and monitored. While social media allows companies to connect and communicate on a more personal level with customers, this type of engagement can either hinder or strengthen your reputation. Knowing this, your brand’s reputation can easily be damaged by social media in a matter of minutes.
Let’s look at the recent events with Bud Light’s campaign, #UpForWhatever. The campaign began last year during the Super Bowl. It is targeted for Millennials or younger audiences. The theme is supposed to encourage drinkers to be up for whatever when they drink their beer. However, this year’s campaign slogan didn’t bode too well with consumers and caused quite the stir on social media. Many believe the slogan promotes sexual assault or drunk driving. And this isn’t the first time Bud Light has had issues with their campaigns.
The label read, “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.”
The image of the bottle was originally posted on Reddit where it quickly spread to other social networks. It angered many and even had some boycotting the beer. Several hoped the campaign would terminate, while others thought it was taken out of context. As a result from the uproar and criticism on social media, Bud Light stopped production with the slogan on their bottles.
Alexander Lambrecht, the Vice President of Bud Light apologized for the slogan saying, “It’s clear that this message missed the mark, and we regret it. We would never condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior.” The company has also apologized on social media and their website.
The company handled the crisis fairly quickly. They stopped production and promptly apologized for their mistake. But this did not satisfy some customers. We know we can’t be perfect. We are human and make mistakes. We also know that we can’t please everyone. There are always going to be people out there criticizing. It is just important to handle communication properly during the time of a crisis.
I did notice on Bud Light’s Facebook page that they would respond to people who were slashing out at the company. Many of the responses from Bud Light seemed automated. They replied with almost the same thing every time. I’m sure they had an overwhelming response on social media; therefore, responding to each person would be difficult and time consuming. However, in this time of crisis, the company should have had more hands on deck. Just based on what I read, I didn’t feel like they were personally responding. I’m actually surprised more people didn’t comment on that fact.
There is no doubt that Bud Light’s reputation took a hit after their campaign slogan. However, they are such a large company that I don’t think it damaged them all that much. People will still continue to purchase and drink their beer. Perhaps the marketers on this particular campaign knew the slogan would be controversial and continued to run it simply to create a stir. They wanted to get people talking about them. Of course there are other ways to get people talking about your brand in a positive way. A situation like with Bud Light just goes to show you the importance of having a good social crisis management plan.
We all make mistakes but as long as we handle the situation we can help preserve our brand’s reputation. Because it can take minutes to ruin your reputation and then take years to fix and rebuild it. If you are looking for some resources and tools to help manage your online reputation, you can read more about some of our favorite tools in our blog post.
What are your thoughts on Bud Light’s campaign ad? Did social media take it too far?