Awkwardness On Tap For Bud Light’s Parent Company As It Accepts Prestigious Award
ARCO, ID - APRIL 21: A sign disparaging Bud Light beer is seen along a country road on April 21, 2023 in Arco, Idaho. Anheuser-Busch, the brewer of Bud Light has faced backlash after the company sponsored two Instagram posts from a transgender woman.
Natalie Behring/Getty Images

Industry experts weighed in on Bud Light’s parent company accepting a prestigious award following the debacle the brand faced after its partnership with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney, a man who identifies as a woman.

Bud Light parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (AB InBev) top executive Marcel Marcondes was honored with the Creative Marketer of the Year award, the industry’s equivalent of an Oscar, at the annual Cannes Lions Festival in France, amid a boycott against the brand that sent market shares plummeting, AdAge reported.

Opinions on the company accepting the award have been mixed, with some who have suggested the agency could’ve declined.

One agency executive that worked with the company in the past-told AdAge that AB InBev should “consider seriously addressing the marketing issues they face in the United States before showcasing what they have done or what they think about the wider conversation of marketing.”

“They have bigger fish to fry than showing up to an awards show,” the person who spoke on anonymity added.

Some marketers felt the work that the company did outside of the partnership with Mulvaney shouldn’t negate the other success it had.

One industry executive said they didn’t “think this is as big of an issue globally because Bud Light is a very American brand. They have a ton of work they should still be proud of.”

An LGBTQ marketer criticized the “speed at which” AB InBev “distanced itself from the Mulvaney controversy. My advice to the AB InBev team is to show up at Cannes Lions with a massive dose of humility.”

In a press release in March, the festival said, “The award [Creative Marketer of the Year] recognizes AB InBev’s sustained creative excellence that has driven sustainable business growth — as well as their body of Lion-winning work amassed over a sustained period of time, and reputation for producing brave creative and innovative marketing solutions.”

At the festival, Marcedonas gave opening remarks and labeled the disastrous partnership with Mulvaney a “wake-up call” for the industry after consumers boycotted the brand, making it lose the title of best-selling beer in America.

“In times like this, when things get divisive and controversial so easily, I think it’s an important wake-up call to all of us marketers, for us to be very humble,” Marcondes said.

AB InBev is “really reminding ourselves of what we should do best every day, which is to really understand our customers, which is to really celebrate and appreciate every customer that loves our brands, but in a way that can make them be together, not apart,” he added.

The executive stopped short of apologizing after AB InBev lost nearly $20 billion in value since the Mulvaney campaign in April.

Related: Agency Behind Bud Light Debacle Wins Ad Industry’s Equivalent Of An Oscar

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