We’re not always here to shit on Anheuser-Busch and its parent robot Beer Voltron. Hey, it actually looks like they’re trying to do the right thing in the commercial above, or maybe they’re just trying to sell more beer. We’re hoping it’s at least a little of both. Perhaps you’ve borne witness to the politically themed “Bud Light Party” campaign commercials with comedic drinking buddies Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer. Well, a new one came out this week (by the wiz kids at Wieden & Kennedy New York). It talks gender equality and fair pay for women.
Thumbs up, and welcome to the modern world.
While the punch line makes zero sense (and maybe it’s not supposed to) — “Bud Light costs the same no matter if you are a dude or a lady” — we like the idea of Anheuser-Busch talking about gender equality and gay marriage (which it did in this previous commercial). What we like even more is this idea (from AdAge):
For the equal pay spot, Bud Light plans to donate $1 to women’s organization Catalyst each time viewers use the hashtag #CheersToEqualPay on social media. The total donation is capped at $150,000 for the program, which runs through the end of June.
That’s cool, and we give Anheuser-Busch props, but we’re still suspicious. In the past, we’ve seen Anheuser-Busch use patriotism, our most beloved sport and the holy sanctity of rock and roll to sell us beer. Is this a similar con? There’s a pretty good chance Francine Katz is giving this campaign an exaggerated eye roll. Back in 2009, Katz alleged in a gender discrimination lawsuit that Anheuser-Busch paid her a fraction of the salary of her male predecessor (John Jacob). Katz was one of two women on the brewery’s top Strategy Committee (she was vice president of communications and consumer affairs), resigning in 2008. Her lawyers argued that she was owed a head-turning $9.4 million for work she did between 2002 and 2008. Katz ended up losing the suit in 2014, and many were surprised at the verdict. From the St. Louis Business Journal:
In the end, jurors simply did not see enough evidence that Anheuser-Busch discriminated against Francine Katz because she was a woman.
After the verdict was read, Katz embraced her lawyers as her husband, Simon Katz, and other family members sat in the back of the courtroom looking stunned. “I am disappointed but I think that all the attention and discussion this lawsuit has sparked is for the good,” Katz said, after leaving the courtroom. “I hope this lawsuit opens the door for change. We may not have won, but you can’t ever win if you don’t try.”
According to the St. Louis Business Journal: Nine out of 12 jurors sided with Anheuser-Busch, and that was five out of seven female jurors and four out of five male jurors. Since then, the mega beer company has supposedly changed a lot. From AdAge:
Her allegations covered a period in which the brewer was run by a different leadership regime. The current version of the company was established in 2008 after the acquisition of St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch by Belgium-based InBev.
So, it is a different regime today, and perhaps the company’s questionable approaches to issues like gender equality, the environment, community outreach and a fair beer market (OK, probably not that last one) are changing for the better. Take a second and decide for yourself.