Ohio University Strategic Social Media

Crowdsourced Learning Lab #ouj4530

Category: Emily Peterson

Bud Light’s #UpForWhatever campaign takes ugly turn and results in a #SocialFail

Bud Light’s #UpForWhatever campaign, while successful at first because of the lighthearted nature of the slogan, missed the mark after printing the phrase, “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.” Many people saw this as a result of rape culture, with the people responsible for the phrase not understanding the implication of sexual assault. The “Up For Whatever” campaign started back in 2014, and up until this mistake was considered widely successful. Bud Light’s target demographic of young people in their 20’s was very receptive to the fun-loving commercials and social media posts related to the campaign, however this mistake printed on a batch of Bud Light products proved that even the greatest campaigns can ultimately fail. While the blunder began on a physical product, the backlash the company received was generated mostly on social media before it was picked up by major news sources.

Picture of beer bottle with phrase "the perfect beer for removing 'no' from your vocabulary for the night."

(photo: usatoday.com)

The original purpose of the campaign was to go along with their happy-go-lucky motto, however this phrase pushed it a little too far. While this is the phrase that is cited the most when it comes to Bud Light, it is actually not the first time that sexual assault was insinuated because of one of their posts. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2015, Bud Light tweeted, “On St. Patrick’s Day you can pinch people who don’t wear green. You can also pinch people who aren’t #UpForWhatever.” This post was quickly deleted after Twitter users deemed this an excuse for sexual assault and unwanted physical attention.

Sexual assault is a huge topic on college campuses right now, which is perhaps a huge reason that Bud Light’s target demographic of college-age men and women responded so negatively to the St. Patrick’s Day tweet and “removing no” phrase. While Bud Light may not have intended for the phrases to reference sexual assault, many have asked how such a saying could sneak past 155,000 employees without being halted before production. Industry leader Kat Gordon cited this problem as fearful subordinates being too afraid to tell a creative director that something they’ve come up with is a bad idea. The Vice President of the Anheuser-Busch Company released a statement on their official website saying, “It’s clear that this particular message missed the mark, and we regret it. We would never condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior. As a result, we have immediately ceased production of this message on all bottles.

This particular aspect of the campaign was clearly a social fail. Thousands of people took to Twitter to express their outrage, and many vowed to not purchase Bud Light until the issue was addressed and rectified. One tweet read, “@budlight, no means no. This ad perpetuates rap culture,” and it was retweeted and favorited over 300 times. The problem was addressed by well-respected public figures as well, with Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey tweeting, “RT if you agree @budlight #UpForWhatever campaign should promote responsible – not reckless – drinking. #NoMeansNo” Benj Steinman, publisher of Beer Marketer’s Insights, stated that the company seemed, “kind of tone deaf,” referencing both the “removing no” phrase as well as the St. Patrick’s Day tweet.

After reading about the campaign, I would change the way the creative and planning teams research their demographic. Many of their consumers are women, so I would hold focus groups with young women in their 20’s to better understand what they want to see in an alcohol campaign. With so much of the conversation about sexual assault and rape culture surrounding alcohol and intoxication, it would be best to make sure alcoholic beverage slogans were tested among women in the demographic before being sent to production or posted on social media.

Bukszpan, D. (2015, April 29). What was Bud Light thinking? Consumers keep ‘no’ in their vocabulary. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://fortune.com/2015/04/29/bud-light-up-for-whatever/
Hughes, T. (2015, April 29). Bud Light apologizes for ‘removing no’ label. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/04/28/bud-light-label/26532085/
Monllos, K. (2015, April 28). Bud Light Says It ‘Missed the Mark’ With Line About ‘Removing No From Your Vocabulary’ Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/bud-light-says-it-missed-mark-tagline-about-removing-no-your-vocabulary-164374
Okyle, C. (2015, April 28). Bud Light’s Lighthearted ‘Up for Whatever’ Campaign Takes a Dark Turn. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245608
Strom, S. (2015, April 28). Bud Light Withdraws Slogan After It Draws Ire Online. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/29/business/bud-light-withdraws-slogan-after-it-draws-ire-online.html?_r=0

Burberry Snags #SocialWin During London Fashion Week

By Emily PetersonBurberry custom Snapchat ghost

High-end designer Burberry made a risky social media move before London Fashion Week in September of 2015 that most have come to think of as a social media win. The brand previously received positive feedback on the social media platform Snapchat, receiving 100 million impressions promoting a menswear show on the mobile app. They decided to channel that Snapchat success by releasing behind the scenes content of their Spring 2016 clothing line the day before the fashion show, and collaborated with Snapchat to curate a live show of Burberry with crowd-sourced footage.

Burberry CEO Christopher Bailey explained the purpose of this decision, which many deemed risky because people would see the clothes before the show, and they are usually kept under wraps until the big reveal. Bailey said featuring Burberry’s collection on Snapchat would, “allow a unique, real time view of the creation of our show which will include an unprecedented collection premier hours before it hits the runway.”

Burberry based this decision on making the brand more, “immediate and accessible,” and it was the first fashion campaign of its kind. The decision to release footage of the clothes before the show is similar to that of Volkswagon before the 2012 Super Bowl. They gambled by releasing their Super Bowl commercial the day before the big game, and forever changed the way Super Bowl campaigns are done.

The brand highlights the fact that users who follow Burberry would only have “24 hours to view the spring/summer campaign and footage captured during the shoot before the content disappears.” While we all know it is possible to screenshot a snap and keep it for longer, the immediate, behind-the-scenes feel delivered by this campaign is truly something that only Snapchat could give to consumers, which is why Burberry chose this platform. The famed photographer in charge of the event, Mario Testino, stated that the goal of the event was to, “open up a completely new way of capturing and sharing content – with the result being much more instant and genuine.

The campaign was announced only a few days before the live footage would be available on Snapchat, keeping with the spirit of the campaign itself. The pictures and footage were then shot by Testino and released the day before the Burberry London Fashion Week show, with Testino offering a variety of photos and videos. These included still snaps of the new models being introduced for the Spring 2016 Line, models posing in the new clothing and interactions among the models between takes.

I’ve deemed this campaign a social win, and many industry leaders seem to agree. While it’s difficult to find statistics on the number of impressions this campaign received because of Snapchat’s fleeting dynamics, many public relations news sites categorize Burberry as one of few UK brands “making it work” on Snapchat. This is due in part to keeping with the true spirit of Snapchat and taking all pictures on an iPhone, even if it means low-quality footage. One of the leaders of the campaign said, “This is about being quick and easy. It’s lo-fi, and it’s meant to be poor quality; otherwise, people won’t buy into it.” Because consumers and industry leaders deem the campaign authentic, Burberry has been able to succeed on this platform.

To engage users more, I would improve the campaign by shooting quick interviews with each of the new models on Snapchat to take them from being mysterious figures to real people. By showing off their personalities and letting them engage with consumers, it makes the brand even more relatable and fun, which is one of their goals with Snapchat.

Faull, J. (2015, September 18). Burberry ups Snapchat investment with landmark London Fashion Week campaign. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://www.thedrum.com/news/2015/09/18/burberry-ups-snapchat-investment-landmark-london-fashion-week-campaign
Kharpal, A. (2015, September 18). Burberry to reveal clothes on Snapchat before runway. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://www.cnbc.com/2015/09/18/burberry-to-reveal-london-fashion-week-collection-on-snapchat-before-runway.html
Milnes, H. (2015, December 02). How Burberry became the top digital luxury brand – Digiday. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://digiday.com/brands/burberry-became-top-digital-luxury-brand/
Sohn, T. (2015, September 18). Burberry Will Premiere its Next Fashion Collection on Snapchat. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://www.adweek.com/blognetwork/burberry-will-premiere-its-next-fashion-collection-on-snapchat/10684
Sorin, K. (2015, April 14). Burberry uses Snapchat to share video and capture consumers’ attention. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://www.luxurydaily.com/burberry-2/
Southern, L. (2016, January 26). Three UK brands making it work on Snapchat – Digiday. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://digiday.com/brands/uk-brands-snapchat/
Wilbur, H. (2015, October 22). Burberry shoots Spring 2016 campaign live on Snapchat in a fashion first. Retrieved February 05, 2016, from http://mashable.com/2015/10/22/burberry-ad-campaign-snapchat/