Monday, May 4, 2015

Fearing Legal Liability, Budweiser Does the Right Thing.

A recent Bud Light advertising campaign was scuttled over concerns of exposure to legal liability, but not before the bottles with a thoughtless slogan had been distributed. The Bud Light labels prominently identified the product as "THE PERFECT BEER FOR REMOVING "NO" FROM YOUR VOCABULARY FOR THE NIGHT." Fearing legal liability for promoting rape culture, the company has pulled the bottles and the slogan and has apologized.

Corporate decision-making can be siloed and fractured, but how many drunken frat boys must there be at this company to approve such an exquisitely callous and inappropriate public presentation of a product?  When students complain to me that businesses worry about getting sued my response is, "They are supposed to worry about getting sued."  Fear of being sued is what causes them to be more careful about safety and thoughtful about how their practices can negatively impact the rest of society.

At least once the online comments started to flow, the company responded appropriately instead of trying to stubbornly defend the indefensible. But what kind of "College Humor"-fueled, insular and thoughtless culture must permeate the social media marketing office at Bud that they were unable to comprehend the implications of adopting this slogan? Even if they were unable to recognize their callous disregard for the victims of sexual assault, they should have been able to recognize the obvious liability exposure.  I would hope that any 5th or 6th semester Legal Environment student would have caught that one.

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