Recently, Bud Light saw its worst week of sales since the boycott against the company started over its disastrous marketing collaboration with Dylan Mulvaney in early April. However, despite these horrific sales figures, the brewing company recently received an award for its creative marketing practices at the prestigious Cannes Lions marketing festival.
The American Tribune recently reported on the worst weekly drop in sales Bud Light has endured since the boycott against the company started. In early April, Dylan Mulvaney took to social media to advertise a partnership with Bud Light. Ever since, the beer has seen year-over-year declines in sales each week, upwards of 20 percent. For the week ending June 10, Bud Light sales cratered almost 27 percent compared to the same period last year.
Marcel Macondes, the global chief marketing officer at Anheuser-Busch, accepted the “Creative Marketer of the Year” award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The conference is often considered the “Oscars” of the advertising and marketing industry. Marcondes, who has worked at Anheuser-Busch for nearly 20 years, addressed the Dylan Mulvaney controversy at the festival, calling it a “wake-up call” for the industry.
The marketing executive further stated that it was also a call to be “humble” and that his company is driven by its “values.” Marcondes said, “In times like this, when things get divisive and controversial so easily, I think it’s an important wake-up call to all of us marketers first of all to be very humble. That’s what we’re doing, being very humble, and really reminding ourselves of what we should do best every day, which is to really understand our consumers. Which is to really celebrate and appreciate every consumer that loves our brands—but in a way that can make them be together, not apart.”
Reportedly, Marcondes had been nominated for the award prior to the Dylan Mulvaney marketing disaster that started in early April. According to reports from the Wall Street Journal, there were even calls for Marcondes to decline the award considering the consequences of Bud Light’s woke marketing initiative. Leila Fataar, the founder of Platform13, a marketing strategy firm, stated, “In the spirit of fairness and credibility, I think it would be a big and the right gesture for AB InBev to give the 2023 award back, make the changes necessary and come back even stronger.”
Marketing teams for companies and brands are contending with the issue of whether to take a stance on woke social issues. The incentive for these companies to engage in woke advertising in other initiatives is propagated through things such as ESG scores, which are having an ever-increasing influence over board rooms. The Cannes Lions Festival has even received criticism for favoring woke marketing as opposed to “less socially minded” advertisers.
However, consumers have proven through prominent examples such as Target and Bud Light that such virtue signaling does not resonate with them. Bud Light receiving this esteemed marketing award amid the financial disaster, the Dylan Mulvaney backlash further highlights the disconnect between elites and the average consumer. Perhaps Bud Light should have been awarded the most creative way to destroy market value in a Fortune Global 500 company.
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