NEW YORK — Bud Light should have kept the word “No” handy in this case.
Anheuser-Busch is apologizing for ad copy that appeared on bottles saying Bud Light removes the word ‘no’ from drinkers’ vocabulary.
Photos of the bottles went viral on social media Tuesday with widespread complaints about the slogan, particularly at a time of national debate about college rape.
“The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night,” the copy read in full.
The response on social media ranged from crude jokes to criticism that the slogan is part of a culture that tacitly condones sexual assault.
The slogan is part of the brewer’s two-year-old “Up for Whatever” campaign that includes a wide array of marketing, such as a Super Bowl commercial that showed a Bud Light drinker going through a live-action Pac Man game.
The company says there are waves of the bottle-message campaign included more than 140 different messages — with new ones out every few months — intended to “encourage brand engagement.” They said this particular one missed the mark, and the company regrets it.
“We would never condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior,” Alexander Lambrecht, vice president, Bud Light said in a statement. “As a result, we have immediately ceased production of this message on all bottles.”
Marketers can sometimes lose perspective when they walk the line between being edgy to get attention and being offensive, said marketing expert Allen Adamson, managing director of branding firm Landor Associates.
“All marketers want to get people’s attention, not alienate them,” Adamson said. “The challenge is to understand who you’re talking to, but not lose sight of the bigger picture and be potentially polarizing and offensive.”
Some other messages on bottles include: “The perfect beer for dropping everything and going to Paris, even if it’s the one in Texas;” and “The perfect beer for being that guy people know when they say they ‘know a guy.'”