Open Letter to BudLight and BBDO: How to Apologzie

Bud Light’s “removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary” tagline merits a better apology

Dear Bud Light and BBDO:

Look, I get that alcohol marketing is primarily about marketing the promise of uninhibited fun. After all, alcohol’s key value proposition is lowered inhibitions, which allow many people the freedom do participate in activities they typically wouldn’t. And a lot of those activities can be quite fun. Much like the lottery, your job is to sell the best promise of your product, not to provide a balanced view of the full effects of your product.

The kerfuffle

That being said, referencing “removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night,” one of the tag lines of the Up For Whatever campaign, did more than “miss the mark.” It might as well have read “removing ‘no’ from her vocabulary for the night.” In a world where colleges and universities are struggling every day to prevent sexual assault by teaching the next generation to ask for and respect consent, there you are, back in the 1960s, teaching everyone that the only fun to be had is without consent. That tagline reeks of “boys will be boys” and throwing not only caution but also consent to the wind.

Basically, the reason you’re getting accused of being a little rapey is because your ad is a little rapey.

And your half-assed apology isn’t doing it for anyone. So let’s talk about how to apologize properly.

How to apologize

So what’s a corporation to do in this situation? Here’s the thing to do. It’s the same thing that every corporation (or politician or boyfriend or wife) should always do for building trust: cowboy/girl up and apologize.

Here is my three-step PR apology kit:

  1. First, apologize. For real. Heartfelt. Sincere. Acknowledge that you fucked up. Do not use the passive voice. Do not let your lawyers write the apology. Use the active voice, and write like you’re speaking to your grandmother. Do not “regret any inconvenience” and for heaven’s sake, don’t “regret that some took it badly.” Just admit in so many words that you made a mistake. Your audience will forgive you, but only if you actually apologize.
  2. Acknowledge your audience (including the women). Reaffirm what your brand stands for and that your audience is what makes your brand strong and successful.
  3. Show you’ve learned A wise brand learns from its mistakes. After the Superbowl debacle, GoDaddy fired its CEO and used more inclusive ad campaigns. We all grow and learn. Promise to be more conscientious in the future, and we’ll begin to trust your brand again.

Here’s an example:

Recently, we included a tagline on some of our bottles as part of the Up For Whatever campaign. This campaign is designed to encourage a spirit of adventure and light-hearted fun, but this particular tagline did just the opposite.

The “removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night” tagline was a mistake. We want everyone who drinks Bud Light to both have fun and be responsible. And this time, we failed to convey that.

We’re sorry, and we will work in the future to earn back your trust in Bud Light’s ability to provide a fun and safe night for all our fans.

PW 344: Consent is sexy

Embracing Yes Means Yes and the fact that consent is sexy

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1:00 Announcements and host chat

  • No holiday chat here, just good kerfuffles of the week with LustyGuy cohosting

3:15 Topic: Nice guys rape, too

As part of the Good Men Project, Alyssa Royse penned this piece trying to explain that nice guys can commit rape, unbeknownst to them. The backlash against her piece has been significant. Our key objections:

  • Saying that women give off “mixed signals” is not only wrong but irrelevant; it can come off as a rape apology
  • Agreed that “no means no” does not work
  • However, “yes means yes” does work 100% of the time

Backlash pieces:

21:45 Topic: Pink loves consent

A group of feminists in Baltimore coordinated a masterful spoof of Victoria’s Secret PINK site, which is typically targeted at teen and college-age women and bears thongs sporting motifs such as “Sure Thing” printed on skimpy thongs. PinkLovesConsent was such a pitch-perfect spoof of the site (now bearing panties sporting “Ask First” and “No Means No”) that even VS employees believed it to be real and congratulated the company on its embracing of women’s issues.

Sadly, Victoria’s Secret had nothing to do with it. But wouldn’t it be great if they had?

26:35 Happy Poly Moment

  • Irina shares a happy poly moment about a kick-ass metamour
  • Alicia shares a happy poly moment of being welcomed into a relationship

30:00 Feedback

  • Joreth writes in to correct evolutionary assumptions in episodes 333, 336 and 340 on the upsuck theory
  • Jenny makes a point about compulsions in response to episode 309 on sex addiction

34:00 Wrap up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email or call the listener comment line at 802-505-POLY (our new number!). And hey, why not attach an audio comment to that email? :-) Check out PolyWeekly at Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review!

PW 291: Yes means yes

Going a step further for negotiating consent: yes means yes

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1:00 Announcements

  • The Geeky Kink Event is November 4-6 in New Jersey, including D&D gaming and TARDIS bondage boxes in the play space!

2:20 Yes means yes

A look at a new campaign that takes “no means no” to a more proactive level: yes means yes. Cohosts:

Franklin Veaux



Active Consent
Yes means yes blog
The on yes means yes

Slutwalk London on yes means yes


“Dinner Party” erotica minigasms. Like it and want more? Support the Minigasm project here!

30:45 Feedback

  • 30 year old male asks how to get past the self-doubt and criticism when exploring polyamory for the first time
  • Amanda asks how poly family’s kids can be taken away
  • Dave, a monogamous listener, says thanks!

42:00 Wrap-up

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Email and attach an audio comment or call the listener comment line at 206-202-POLY. Friend us on Twitter or Facebook or leave a comment here. Check out PolyWeekly podcasts at Share this with a friend or write an iTunes review! Want Poly Weekly for your very own? Get the Best of Poly Weekly collection from Our intro and outro music is courtesy of Pacemaker Jane, “Good Suspicions.”

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