In Swedish we have a very odd idiom that translates to: "Now you've shat in the blue cabinet." To explain what it means, it's to have done something so uncouth and/or stupid that people will never forget it.
Where does this idiom come from? Well, once upon a time the color blue was very expensive and hard to come by, so in farmhouses all around the country, the finest cabinet with the best china was the one that had the honor to be painted that coveted blue. This cabinet would be proudly positioned in the best room, one where the finest furniture was and where you would invite guests to sit. So to do something as horrible as shitting in the blue cabinet would be talked about on every farm and give you a reputation that would stick with you forever.
Bud Light shat in the blue cabinet when they used Dylan Mulvany as a social media brand ambassador. And thanks to this funny expression, I don't have to line this article with yet another photo of Dylan Mulvany chugging a Bud Light.
On the one hand the LGBTQ group Humans Rights Campaign is urging Bud Light to reaffirm their commitment to the trans community or they'll lower their index score, on the other we have plummeting sales and angry distributors who suffered the brunt of it. The distributors' employees, frequently spotted behind the wheel of Bud Light-branded trucks, have faced hostile encounters with angry individuals on the streets, in stores, and at bars.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, the parent company of Bud Light, is actively working towards mending its relationship with distributors who have been facing negative reactions. They have pledged to boost their marketing expenses for Bud Light, hasten the development of fresh advertisements, and have even decided to gift a case of Bud Light to each employee at an Anheuser-Busch wholesaler, as per reports from distributors.
During the week that ended on April 22, Bud Light's U.S. retail-store sales experienced a 21.4% decline compared to the same period the previous year, based on an analysis of Nielsen data conducted by Bump Williams Consulting. In contrast, sales of competing brands Coors Light and Miller Lite increased by approximately 21% each. Beer Business Daily called it "a shocking deterioration of Bud Light Blue's market share" and continued “We’ve never seen such a dramatic shift in national share in such a short period of time.”
Distributors didn't just face a loss of sales but also had to deal with angry customers. Jeff Wheeler, vice president of marketing for Del Papa Distributing, said that his staff fended “tons of phone calls from people being very hateful.”
As the backlash worsened Del Papa Distributing released a statement, where he confirms new leadership and a change of direction with the Bud Light marketing.
“Del Papa Distributing is 113-year-old independent family-owned wholesaler representing over 35 suppliers, including Anheuser-Busch. We employ over 350 people who have borne the brunt of this controversy, but have had no control or input in the messaging.
Since April 1, there has been a lot of discussion, frustration, and even anger, across the country regarding a can of Bud Light that was produced for a social media influencer. We too are upset with this situation and have been vocal about it with the top leadership at Anheuser-Busch.”
“Anheuser-Busch is our largest brewer partner and has an extremely large media presence over which we have no control. That presence includes hundreds of influencers as part of their marketing strategy, which is common for all major consumer brands. The Bud Light influencer’s post, which ignited the current controversy and then went viral, was not intended as a political statement. In fact, the single can at the center of the controversy was not even produced in an Anheuser-Busch brewery. It was the result of a third-party ad agency. The unfortunate reality that it happened without higher level approval, exposed a concerning lack of oversight for brand marketing decisions. That lack of oversight has been addressed and, as a result, AB has changed reporting responsibilities within the marketing department. Most importantly in our view, the Bud Light brand has new leadership. The importance of that decision means that the voices of upset consumers have been heard and that those responsible for harming the highly respected reputation of Bud Light and Anheuser-Busch are no longer able to do so.”
Will the new direction and free beer bribes help straighten up the sales curve of Bud light, or have they effectively shat in the blue cabinet, meaning everyone will keep talking about this for years to come anyway? That remains to be seen.