Posts Tagged ‘Anheuser Busch’

Risqué Bud Light Lime Ad Too Risky

February 7th, 2010

I have mixed emotions about Bud Light Lime’s internet-only a “in the can” commercial. Privately telling an off-color joke to a friend is one thing, but publicly making implicit references to anal sex, even if it’s “just” on the internet, is something else. From a business standpoint, it’s both risqué and risky. Moreover, the spot repeats the same play on words ten times; however funny it is the first one or two times, it’s not nearly as funny the ninth or tenth time.

The reason I have mixed emotions is that four friends found it interesting enough to forward to me, and I suspect that there are many people–probably millions– who will find the ad to be quite entertaining. So the question is, do the positive points Bud Light Lime scores with people who like the ad outweigh the points they lose among people who find it offensive?

I often tell my clients that their ads and other communications efforts don’t need to appeal to everyone, and that communications designed to not turn anyone off usually also fail to turn anyone on. Often the answer to “Do we dare do this?” comes down to two things: how deeply are certain people likely to be offended, and are a lot of those people likely to be in the target audience? On the first point, I suspect that those who dislike the Bud Light Lime ad will really dislike it; on the second point, I would argue that Bud Light Lime’s target audience is broad enough that it will contain a lot of those people.

A true niche product that’s cultivating a maverick, rebel image has little to lose–and maybe even much to gain–by offending those who aren’t in its tiny target audience. But Bud Light Lime is targeting a mainstream crowd, many of whom I think will find this ad to be offensive. And keep in mind that this has implications not only for the brand equity of Bud Light lime, but of every brand in the Budweiser portfolio.

So while I’ll give Anheuser Busch owner InBev credit for taking a risk in this increasingly risk-averse world of ours, I don’t think it was a smart risk. In other words, I think this ad should have been canned.

What do you think?