Budweiser has a marketing nightmare on its hands today. In case you’ve missed the social media backlash about one of the #UpforWhatever campaign taglines on bottles of Bud Light, let me give it to you.

The perfect beer for removing “no” from your vocabulary for the night. #UpForWhatever
Chances are the stupidity of this on a bottle of beer hit you as soon as you read it, but somehow, it didn’t hit the marketers who created the slogan or the Budweiser executives who approved it.

What was the slogan supposed to mean? The #UpForWhatever campaign has been around for more than a year now. In the marketing materials, its clear that the campaign is supposed to promote “spontaneous awesomeness” and “epic fun.”

But advertising that beer will remove "no" from your vocabulary does not promote "epic fun." It promotes epic irresponsibility. One or two light beers won’t remove "no" from most of-age drinker’s vocabularies. It will take many light beers to do that, and by then the whatever you're up for is probably not a smart choice.

We’re not talking about an ill-advised rendition of "It’s Raining Men" at karaoke night here. There are those who are equating “removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary” specifically with rape, and that certainly falls within the reasons this is a horrible slogan for an alcoholic beverage. But it’s more than just rape. It could be having a consensual sexual encounter with someone you normally wouldn’t if you could make a sober decision – whether you’re a woman or a man.

And, of course, there are other devastating choices outside the realm of sex that could be made by having enough beer to remove “no” from your vocabulary. You could get behind the wheel of an automobile. You could run up a tab on your credit card buying rounds for everyone. There are any number of stupid, irresponsible, dangerous things people could do when they’re drunk enough to lose the word, “no.”

Yes, people are responsible for their own decisions. For starters, they can choose not to get drunk. But the marketing people who created this slogan are responsible for their decisions, too, and this was just a plain stupid one. They’re selling alcohol and irresponsibility at the same time.

The backlash has prompted Bud Light to apologize and say it “missed the mark,” according to MSNBC.

“The Bud Light Up for Whatever campaign, now in its second year, has inspired millions of consumers to engage with our brand in a positive and light-hearted way,” Alexander Lambrecht, vice president of Bud Light, said in the statement, which the company also posted on Twitter. “In this spirit, we created more than 140 different scroll messages intended to encourage spontaneous fun. It’s clear that this message missed the mark, and we regret it. We would never condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior.”
Forbes speculates that this irresponsible campaign may end up having an impact on the industry as a whole because until now, the alcohol industry has “managed to keep federal regulation to a minimum through ‘self-regulation.’” Will Bud Light’s decision put an end to that trend? That remains to be seen.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

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