Date Rape Beer Labels Cause Controversy

budweiserBudweiser has recently come under fire for labels on its Bud Light beer that many people state promote date rape. Part of the brand’s “Up for Whatever” campaign, the label features a tag line that reads “The perfect beer for removing the word ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.” On April 27, a Reddit discussion began about the label, and quickly expanded to many other social media platforms.

The marketing campaign features 140 separate slogans on the bottles aimed at promoting spontaneous fun. The brand’s marketing agency, BBDO, collaborates to design the custom product labels, which are then run by the ad council, corporate social responsibility team, and legal team for approval. From there, they are submitted to the United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau as required by law. All alcoholic beverage labels are reviewed by the Bureau. A company spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that half of the ad’s reviewers were women.

A comment issued by Bud Light Vice President Alexander Lambrecht stated that the label’s “message missed the mark, and we regret it. We would never condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior.”

Ariel Zwang, CEO of Safe Horizon, an agency which assists survivors of sexual assault, does not believe the slogan was accidental.

“It’s hard for me to believe that a national advertiser could be so oblivious to what has been a major national conversation about consent to sex,” she told CBS News.

Budweiser considered recalling the bottles bearing the labels in question, but ultimately decided against it as they do not pose a health or safety risk to the general public. Because there are 140 slogans in circulation, the company estimates that it is featured on fewer than 1% of the bottles in stores. Recalling the problematic custom product labels would be difficult and expensive, and new labels will be released before summertime.

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