No, Bud Light did not make a big mistake by going “woke”… and don’t let others fool you into thinking that.
So, instead of catering to the demands of the anti-woke mob, reiterate your support for marginalized communities. It's not only the right thing to do, but data shows it will be profitable for your brand.
I’m not going to try to define the word “woke” because even the word’s most fervent opponents can’t seem to do so. But in short, the term derived from AAVE and originally meant being socially aware. In the last couple of months, this appropriated phrase has now tuned into our latest societal panic.
Here is what I will say to the people in the back. Trans people existing is not woke. Giving trans people opportunities to be seen in media just like everyone else is not woke, either.
However, recently a slew of bigots have tried to make the opposite claim by slamming Bud Light’s partnership with Dylan Mulvaney as woke (erm, I mean something they don’t like). We’ve seen article after article from the usual suspects telling us how terrible it is that a company decided to run a marketing campaign with one trans influencer. The barrage of coverage is all drummed up panic and fake outrage attempting to scare companies into changing the way they market to LGBTQ people and their allies.
Saying this coverage of Bud Light is a huge overreaction isn't just my opinion. Famous anti-LGBTQ advocate Matt Walsh is promoting this exact technique. It’s not even a dog whistle anymore; his hateful tactics are written in black and white.
Not only are those anti-LGBTQ folks calling for boycotts on social media, but they are also passing along blatant misinformation and random anecdotes to prove their point. This “news” article claimed that the CEO of Anheuser-Busch fired the marketing team behind the campaign, where only a cursory amount of research would uncover that the marketing team wasn’t fired. In fact, the CEO listed in the above article is even a fake person, and yet this article was shared countless times. The ultimate goal of this misinformation is to discourage other companies from doing similar types of marketing by citing one-off examples that this kind of marketing hurts sales. Take the below snippet from a Fox Business article as an example.
"One pub in Hell’s Kitchen, a New York City neighborhood known for its large and vocal gay community, reported that Bud Light draft sales dropped 58% this week, while Bud Light bottle sales were down 70%."
So a couple of bars “reported” that their sales went down this week? The article cleverly tries to make it seem that even gay people are turned off by this marketing without citing if this is a bar with a majority of (or any) LGBTQ patrons. We also have no idea who owns the pub. For all we know, this bar owner can be part of the anti-trans panic as well.
Here is what we do know from actual research. The majority of consumers want brands to be inclusive, with 61% of respondents saying diversity in ads is somewhat important or very important, and 38% saying they’d be more likely to trust a brand that shows diversity in its advertising (Adobe 2022).
So, if you’ve seen the Mulvaney story covered in the news and are worried inclusive marketing might negatively hurt your business, take comfort in knowing this outrage will not hurt your business in the long run; it will only help. Of course, there will be haters out there. There always have been and always will be. They are trying to silence us, but we can’t let them.
Here’s What Brands Can Do
It’s time for brands to double down on their support for trans and other marginalized folks. The anti-trans movement is getting louder and louder, and we need to be even louder than they are. Be unapologetic in your support for the LGBTQ community, and let your commitment be shown through your internal HR practices and your outward-facing marketing efforts. If you are looking for more detailed information on how to make your brand more inclusive, download our guide.
Hate will only win if we let it. Be loud. Be proud. Be inclusive. Keep fighting.
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