This week’s installment of “no, really, what was that marketing team thinking?” is brought to you by Bud Light, which is getting shredded on the Internet for a new slogan on bottles. The tag line: “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night. #UpForWhatever.” Reformulated slightly, the slogan basically translates to “no means up for whatever,” and it didn’t take long for others to begin pointing out that such a statement can be interpreted as an endorsement of rape culture. In the hallowed tradition of Not an Onion Headline, the Bud Light campaign scanned as Not an Amy Schumer Sketch.
There are, of course, plenty of other terrible readings that can be teased from a slogan like that: “No means I’m up for drunk driving!” “No means I'm up for binging all of Daredevil tonight even though I have an early meeting tomorrow!” But the rape-culture overtones seem particularly glaring when “yes means yes” is so commonly tossed around in affirmative consent discussions, and a “no means yes” chant on Yale’s campus previously incited national outrage. As Christopher Ingraham points out at Wonkblog, there’s also the unavoidable fact that at least half of sexual assaults are associated with alcohol consumption.* To quote Ingraham: “That makes alcohol, by far, the most common date-rape drug.”
This slogan isn’t just your run-of-the-mill dumb marketing idea (see: SeaWorld). It’s an epically, mind-bogglingly bad marketing idea, especially as Bud Light already knows it needs to tread carefully with the #UpForWhatever campaign. Last month, the brand was widely criticized for a St. Patrick’s Day tweet it sent out that encouraged imbibers to “pinch people who aren’t #UpForWhatever” and included a photo of women partying. That tweet was later deleted. Of this latest party foul, Bud Light brand vice president Alexander Lambrecht says in a statement, “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.”
You still can’t help but wonder how the slogan ever got approved in the first place. It seems like pretty much any sentient being could have determined that it wasn't in Bud Light's best interest to run it. Or maybe Bud Light’s marketing team is just really, truly #UpForWhatever.
*Correction, April 29, 2015: This post originally misspelled the last name of Christopher Ingraham.