Anyone in crisis management long enough will see a vast variety of outside causes: Hackers, embezzlers, liars, cheats, reprobates, felons, and, just plain stupid.
The worst crisis cause is a self-inflicted one, the dummy. There are plenty of outside forces conspiring to throw your company into a crisis that cuts sales, prompts a recall or destroys your well-constructed reputation. Avoid at all costs the crisis generated from within. It’s the only one you can control.
[Full disclosure, Eric Mower + Associates represents several competing beer brands, but this post is not about beer; it’s about social media and marketing that causes a self-inflicted crisis.]
Bud Light, as part of its national campaign of throwing unsuspecting guys into party central, decided to add a new slogan. At its most benign, it’s still only marginally acceptable. But given the appropriate furor it generated on social media yesterday, it is demonstrably ridiculous.
The slogan? “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.”
This is bad on so many levels. I’ve been in dozens of great brainstorming sessions for clients. If a team at Eric Mower + Associates, and every other agency and company I can imagine, were to try to add a new level of zing to Anheuser-Busch-InBev’s “Up for Anything Campaign,” that line would have been laughed at as a cynical, ludicrous joke. It never would have made it on to a sticky, much less out of the conference room.
It’s unfathomable that this actually could have made it through multiple levels of approvals and onto beer labels. Who ran this brainstorm? The partners of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce?
Given the national furor over date rape, fraternity and drinking excess and generally rude behavior — frequently by the demographic Bud Light appeals to — it’s even more amazing. Should we take the “no” out of drunk driving?
Further, what this does, in practical terms, is unmask as puffery all the “drink responsibly” work by the world’s largest beer maker.
How bad was it? The slogan attracted this comment, according to The New York Times, from Congresswoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.:
“This grossly shortsighted marketing tactic shows an epic lack of understanding of the dangers associated with excessive alcohol consumption, such as sexual assault and drunk driving. We need responsible companies to help us tackle these serious public health and safety problems, not encourage them.”
Self-inflicted crisis? Keep the “no” in those.
The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs and Crisis and Reputation Management at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with eight offices in the East. Learn more about EMA at mowerpr.com/crisisready. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.