Just days after Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth sat for an awkward interview with CBS This Morning and trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney blasted the beer maker for not standing by the “brand deal,” embattled brewer Bud Light seems to be attempting to return to its “fratty humor” with a new commercial.
The ad, which was released on Sunday, features star NFL tight end Travis Kelce and other men grunting as they sit down with cans of Bud Light. Based on the mocking that has occurred on social media, it does not appear as though the brand is ingratiating itself with the customer base it alienated through its partnership with Mulvaney.
On Wednesday’s show, Megyn was joined by Amala Ekpunobi, host of Unapologetic Live, and The Federalist writer Evita Duffy-Alfonso to discuss Bud Light’s struggling sales and whether or not this type of advertising can bring people back.
Bud Light’s woes began in the spring when the brand partnered with Mulvaney on social media posts around its March Madness campaign. The collaboration came on the heels of Bud Light’s vice president of marketing Alissa Heinerscheid – who took a leave of absence amidst the controversy and is now believed to have been fired – lamenting the beer brand’s “fratty, kind of out-of-touch humor” during an appearance on the Make Yourself at Home podcast. She believed her role was to “evolve and elevate” Bud Light.
Heinerscheid’s push for “inclusivity” alienated the core Bud Light customer. Heading into the holiday weekend, sales continued to plummet. The New York Post reported data from NielsenIQ and Bump Williams Consulting found that, in the week ending June 24, the formerly top-selling beer brand’s sales revenue was 27.9 percent lower than the same week a year ago. The number of units sold, meanwhile, slid 31.3 percent year over year.
While the brand has not explicitly admitted it made a mistake when teaming up with Mulvaney, its latest ad seems to imply it is looking to return to its roots. The 15-second spot titled “Backyard Grunts with Travis Kelce” has no dialogue. Instead, Kelce and others grunt as they attempt to sit in lawn chairs or by a pool. Some are holding Bud Light cans. It ends with the slogan “Easy to drink. Easy to Enjoy. Bud Light.”
Megyn, for one, was unimpressed. “It’s large men grunting as they sit down – I don’t know what this is trying to telegraph, but I think it’s: ‘We love fratty, fatty American men, and we’re there for you because our beers are super easy to drink,’” she said. “That is unless you care about being humiliated because you will be if you drink one publicly right now.”
Beer drinkers seem to agree. Not only did the ad get excoriated on social media, Ekpunobi pointed out that so too did the brand’s Fourth of July message on Twitter:
“They got tens of thousands of responses from people who say they will never drink this beer ever again,” she noted.
Can Bud Light Be Saved?
As Megyn explained, she believes that nothing short of a full-throated apology from Whitworth can save the Bud Light. “This guy’s got to understand that, to retain his customer base, he needs to speak to them honestly,” she said. “He needs to reflect their concerns… and take a stand.”
While Duffy-Alonso and Ekpunobi said Bud Light is too concerned with facing the wrath of trans activists (even though they are not customers to begin with) to admit it made an error, Megyn sees an opening because of how polarizing Mulvaney is. “I think the L, G, and B [of LGBTQ+] can understand if you come out and say: ‘It was a mistake. That was a very controversial person who many women feel is mocking them in their approach to social media and otherwise. They feel offended by his calling himself a girl, and prancing around in little girl’s clothing, and declaring himself a woman after one day there. I hear it. I get it. People are offended by this particular person’s approach to the entire trans issue,’” she shared.
Such a statement might help Bud Light build back trust and credibility, but Megyn doesn’t see it happening. “They don’t have the balls to do it,” she concluded. “[Whitworth] is too afraid… he doesn’t get it… [and] he should be fired.”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Ekpunobi and Duffy-Alfonso by tuning in to episode 581 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.