GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER! Bud Light Doesn’t Require You to Assume the Worst

Written by Michael Cummings on May 1, 2015

Get your mind out of the gutter.

If we’ve been told this — and who hasn’t at least once in our lives — chances are something benign was said, written, or in some way communicated to us that we assigned a dirty or at least less-than-appropriate meaning to it.

Clash Daily is a respectable source for news and information so I will not provide examples. Good news, though: I don’t have to. You have but to look at Budweiser. However, it’s not Bud’s fault.

If you’re not a beer snob, you might think Bud is Coors, and Corona is Miller Lite. These are four of the best selling beers in the US so Anheuser, Miller, and Coors, et. al. spend millions on marketing to differentiate. If you can’t tell the difference in taste or don’t care, brewing companies have to win your dollar somehow. If they don’t, they lose.

Neon signs hanging in bars and liquor store windows, posters or cardboard cutouts with bikini models, and half time commercials are a few of multiple ways to make you think their particular brand of beer is better. Personally, I’m on the “build it and they will come” team so beyond getting people to try your product, I don’t put much stock in the neverending ad cycle. But what do I know?

The latest differentiator from Bud Light includes the hashtag “UpForWhatever” and the following printed on Bud Light bottles:

“The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.”

What does mean to you? In literary criticism, Reader Response Theory says the meaning of any piece of communication is entirely up to the reader. When I see this campaign, I can see several messages. As one interpretation example, I’m generally a home body on weekends. I don’t like going out a lot unless it’s with Mrs. Cummings or our whole family. However, kicking back with a few beers with friends is fun every now and then, but it does take some prodding for me to make the effort. In other words, most of the time I say no. Removing “no” from my vocabulary might be good for me by strengthening the friendships I have with my buddies. Maybe I should have a few Bud Lights and relax (I guess marketing works). Take more than 15 seconds to consider this message, however, and you’ll see that it truly is benign.

Judging from the reaction in the Twitterverse, however, you would have thought Bud Light is now lobbying Congress to put legal rape on the ballot. As the Fox News report indicated, Twitter users attacked Bud Light for its promotion of “rape culture.” Other finger wagging included “no means no” and my favorite:

“I’ll be physically unable to process any sentiment that involves trying to convince me Bud Light didn’t know it was making a rape joke there.”

Yes, I know: Intellectual.

Naturally, the spineless executives at Bud Light drew straws for the guy who had to prostrate himself before all social media and beg for forgiveness from the Twitterazzi and Facebookies:

“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.”

If this executive had instead said, “Hey, we didn’t mean what you think so get over it, and get your minds out of the gutter. Oh, and buy our beer,” I would do Bud Light keg stands in my basement.

Honestly, Clashmates, our sensitivity is weapons-grade. We have forgotten humor. We have forgotten to let bad jokes lie. We misperceive our lives as so boring and so bereft of meaning that when we think we behold tiny, even microscopic infractions against our tender rear ends — real or not — we dive for the nearest social microphone to give voice to our wounded feelings and renounce the source of our moral apoplexy. In Bud Light’s case, it doesn’t help that our hyper sexualized culture immediately causes unthinking people to assign dirty images to an innocuous message so much so that it’s impossible for anyone to believe Bud Light didn’t mean it that way. And they did not mean it that way.

For those who are offended by “Up For Anything” and “removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary,” marketing campaign, get your minds out of the gutter, and get a job.


Michael Cummings
Michael A. Cummings has a Bachelors in Business Management from St. John's University in Collegeville, MN, and a Masters in Rhetoric & Composition from Northern Arizona University. He has worked as a department store Loss Prevention Officer, bank auditor, textbook store manager, Chinese food delivery man, and technology salesman. Cummings wrote position pieces for the 2010 Trevor Drown for US Senate (AR) and 2012 Joe Coors for Congress (CO) campaigns.