Bud Light Controversy Drags In Ken Griffey Jr.

While some of today’s top athletes like Lebron James have taken bold political stands, that was not all that common with the previous generation. Michael Jordan — arguably the best basketball player of all time, and certainly one of the most famous — did not build a multi-billion dollar brand by alienating portions of his audience with political takes.

For Jordan and James, however, those are decisions. James has made being political part of his brand, and he seems okay with some people not liking him. Jordan may just be apolitical or he understands that once you share your beliefs publicly you limit your audience.

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There’s a very big difference, however, between taking a political stand and being dragged into something political. Kid Rock, for example, has made being intolerant of trans people and companies that support inclusivity part of his brand. When he chose to shoot up cases of Bud Light after the Anheuser-Busch (BUD) – Get Free Report brand decided to try to expand the reach of its product by conducting a marketing campaign with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney, Rock made it clear what his brand was.

Rock’s actions, while hateful and hurtful to some, were a calculated marketing move. He was signaling a certain audience and that audience responded. It’s no different than James calling Donald Trump a “bum,” although that stance hurts a lot fewer people than Rock’s actions.

Still, Rock and James are involved in polarizing issues because they chose to be. That’s also true of Garth Brooks who could have not commented on the Bud Light controversy but chose to publicly say that his new Nashville bar would not only serve the beer but that it would be a place where everyone — trans, gay, straight, truly anyone looking to have a good time — would be welcome in his establishment.

Brooks could have stopped there, but he made it clear that “assholes” weren’t welcome in his bar, but noted that they would be in lots of other places.

Some stars, however, have been dragged into politics because a brand they endorse inadvertently becomes political. That has happened to Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.

Bud Light has struggled to find a way to reverse its slide.

Anheuser Busch

Bud Light Faces a War On Two Fronts

Bud Light and by extension, all Budweiser products, have suffered a major sales decline for two reasons. The first is clearly the Mulvaney controversy. That’s something the company can’t apologize for because there’s not actually anything wrong with trying to grow your audience.

Issuing an apology for supporting a trans influencer who might have been able to help the company sell some beer would require taking a political stand Anheuser-Busch won’t take. Of course, the company regrets the promotion — it was too big a risk for too little reward — but it can’t publicly say that it made a mistake trying to be inclusive and support the LGBTQ+ community.

The second problem facing the brand — insulting comments made by former Bud Light Vice President Alissa Heinerscheid — could be, but has not been addressed by the company. Heinerscheid called the beer’s customers “fratty” and was dismissive of them during a podcast interview.

Her job may have been to grow the beer customer base, but insulting its core audience — especially when there’s essentially no difference between Bud, Coors, Miller, or a variety of other light beers — was a mistake the company should have aggressively apologized for.

Now, both of these issues are raging and the company’s attempts to go back to business as usual have met with online outrage.

Ken Griffey Jr. Did Not Sign Up For This 

When Griffey Jr. signed on with Budweiser, he likely gave little thought to any potential political fallout. Bud has always been a pro-America brand with ads that might border on sexist on occasion but has certainly never been polarizing.

Now, the Hall of Fame Seattle Mariner great got dragged into the Bud Light backlash when the Budweiser account shared a link to a new merchandise collection.      

“Look like an All-Star. Introducing the Budweiser x Ken Griffey Jr. All-Star Collection. Shop now at the link in bio,” the Tweet said.

An accompanying video showed Griffey Jr. recounting memories over a cold beer with his father, Griffey Sr. That’s pretty typical for the Budweiser playbook, but the company’s detractors (and former fans) aren’t ready to move on.

The comments — many of which were openly homophobic — made it clear that going back to what worked in the past will not win the brand’s customers back.

A lot of the social media posts, at least the ones not using anti-trans slurs simply called on the brand to apologize. The problem is — and Anheuser-Busch knows this — is that you can’t apologize for trying to be inclusive.

Budweiser could apologize for the Heinerscheid comments, but the feedback to the Griffey Jr. post did not make jokes about an executive insulting its customers by calling them “fratty.” The brand has put itself in an impossible position and there’s no coming back from this.

Even Griffey Jr., who likely wants no part of this controversy, can’t help any more than a grunting Travis Kelce or bringing back the talking frogs.


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