How to Avoid a Bud Light Influencer Partnership Mistake

Bud Light’s recent influencer partnership fiasco with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney took a shocking 17% plunge in sales.

The campaign has thrust Dylan into the spotlight who will be able to capitalise on the attention achieved. It’s not worked out quite so well for Bud Light. For them, the campaign resulted in a staggering $6 billion loss in market capitalisation for Anheuser-Busch, Bud Light’s parent company. Amid the backlash, two senior executives have gone on leave.

In this article, we’ll delve into how a seemingly golden opportunity turned into a $6 billion headache for Anheuser-Busch and explore the lessons brands can learn from this misstep.

Grab a drink (maybe not a Bud Light), and let’s dive in! Here are some key points that Anheuser-Busch could have considered to avoid this crisis.

1. Research and Understand the Issue

Before aligning with a polarising issue or figure, thorough research is necessary to grasp the potential consequences. Anheuser-Busch could have better assessed the implications of partnering with a transgender influencer and the potential impact on their audience, especially considering the conservative nature of some segments of their customer base.

2. Engage with Stakeholders

Maintaining an open dialogue with stakeholders, such as customers and employees, could have helped Anheuser-Busch anticipate the backlash. By taking their opinions and concerns into account, they might have been able to make a more informed decision about the partnership.

3. Be Prepared for Potential Backlash

It’s crucial for brands to develop a crisis management plan when aligning with polarising issues. Anheuser-Busch might have been better prepared to handle the situation if they had a strategy for monitoring social media, addressing concerns, and maintaining consistent messaging.

4. Evaluate Long-term Impact

Anheuser-Busch should have considered the long-term implications of their partnership with Dylan Mulvaney. The company lost a significant amount of market capitalization and damaged its reputation with segments of its audience, which will likely have lasting effects on the brand.

5. Empathy and Authenticity

Brands should ensure that their stances on polarising issues are rooted in empathy and authenticity. Anheuser-Busch’s campaign was perceived as insincere by many, which only fueled the backlash. A genuine understanding of the issue and the concerns of those affected could have made a difference.

That’s what went wrong.

So, How Can an Influencer Partnership Benefit Your Business?

When influencer partnerships are done correctly, they can provide numerous benefits for brands and benefits for the influencer too. Here are some advantages of successful influencer collaborations, along with examples of effective partnerships.

1. Increase Brand Awareness

Influencer collaborations can significantly increase brand awareness by exposing a product or service to the influencer’s large and engaged audience.

For example, the partnership between Daniel Wellington and numerous lifestyle influencers on Instagram helped elevate the watch brand’s visibility and positioned it as a sought-after fashion accessory.

2. Boost Credibility

When an influencer genuinely endorses a product, their followers are more likely to trust the recommendation. This can lead to a boost in a brand’s credibility, as people view the influencer’s recommendation as a stamp of approval.

Take the example of GoPro and its collaboration with extreme sports influencers. These partnerships showcased the durability and quality of GoPro cameras in real-life situations, strengthening the brand’s credibility among its target audience.

3. Target Specific Audiences

Influencers often have a specific target audience, making it easier for brands to reach their desired demographic. For instance, when makeup brand Morphe partnered with beauty influencer James Charles, they effectively reached their target audience of young, makeup enthusiasts. (Well, mostly!) This collaboration resulted in the highly successful James Charles x Morphe eyeshadow palette, which quickly sold out upon release.

4. Sell Products and Services

Influencer partnerships can also increase sales and return on investment (ROI) for brands, as consumers are more likely to purchase a product endorsed by someone they trust.

A great example is the partnership between fashion brand REVOLVE and various fashion influencers. By collaborating with influencers who showcased REVOLVE’s clothing in their posts, the brand experienced a significant increase in sales and overall brand recognition.

5. Tell Authentic Stories and Create Content

The best influencers excel at creating authentic and engaging content that resonates with their audience. When a brand partners with an influencer, they benefit from this expertise, leading to more compelling content that showcases the brand’s products or services in a genuine and relatable way.

For example, Airbnb’s collaboration with influencers like photographer Murad Osmann not only showcased their rental properties but also told engaging visual stories that highlighted the unique experiences offered by Airbnb.

Key Takeaways

  • The Anheuser-Busch debacle highlights the importance of carefully navigating polarising issues when aligning a brand with them.
  • By taking the time to research, engage with stakeholders, prepare for backlash, evaluate the long-term impact, and demonstrate empathy, brands can better manage their reputation and avoid potential crises.
  • When done correctly, influencer partnerships can increase brand awareness, credibility, targeted audience reach, sales, and authentic storytelling. 
  • By collaborating with influencers who genuinely align with a brand’s values and target audience, both parties can enjoy the benefits of a successful partnership.