Another major drama flashpoint has exploded for the UFC! According to websites across the MMA mediasphere, Anheuser-Busch is on the verge of dropping the UFC as a sponsor over all the rampant misogyny and gay-hate oozing out of the sport. Here’s the Business Insider carrying the story:
Sexism and homophobia inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship has gotten so bad that Anheuser-Busch—which doesn’t have a reputation for fussiness or political correctness—is publicly threatening to remove its sponsorship money. The maker of Budweiser told Ad Age:
“We’ve communicated to the UFC our displeasure with certain remarks made by some of its fighters, and they have promised to address this. If the incidents continue, we will act.”
That kind of open statement is almost unheard of in sports sponsorship, where advertiser displeasure is usually delivered to media partners behind closed doors.
Yeah … only it wasn’t an open statement at all. Everyone has been acting like this was some big press release from Anheuser-Busch of something. But let’s check Business Insider’s quote source Ad Age and see where A-B’s statement really came from:
A-B first commented on the issue when asked about it by a couple of beverage trade publications, Kane’s Beverage News Daily and U.K.-based Brewers’ Guardian, which reported on criticism of Bud Light’s UFC advertising by alcohol watchdog group Alcohol Justice. The group, formerly called Marin Institute, frequently criticizes alcohol marketers for a host of reasons.
Oh yeah, those Alcohol Justice weirdos. A few days ago we saw their random press release railing against Bud Light for associating themselves with human cockfighting. Aside from being strangely preoccupied with a video of Arianny Celeste frolicking naked in a big pile of limes, Alcohol Justice’s press release also had the familiar A-B statement, sourced to Brewers’ Guardian. But guess where Brewers’ Guardian got the statement?
In a letter sent to the shareholders, Alcohol Justice CEO Bruce Lee Livingston wrote “Bud Light ads are irresponsibly delivering harmful content to millions of youth, exposing them to people beating one another to a bloody pulp. ABI shareholders should be outraged”.
Responding to the letter, Anheuser-Busch stated that research had found that brand advertising does not influence increased consumption or misuse of alcohol, but admitted having spoken to the UFC over its fighters’ behaviour.
“We’ve communicated to the UFC our displeasure with certain remarks made by some of its fighters, and they have promised to address this. If the incidents continue, we will act”, said the brewer.
So just to be clear here … that ‘big open statement’ from Anheuser-Busch wasn’t actually a big open statement at all. It was a boilerplate response sent to these Alcohol Justice kooks. The perception that this is some big edict coming from high up the corporate ladder is complete bullsh*t. There’s no situation where BUDWEISER IS FED UP WITH THE UFC’S GAY HATING WAYS OMG. But why let reality get in the way of some good ol fashioned media hysteria?
What annoys me most about this story is some creepy anti-booze organization managed to make waves even though they’re obviously bonkers. Here’s a taste of the letter they sent A-B stockholders:
We believe ABI’s sponsorship of UFC must come to an end as there is a very tangible risk to the bottom line of dividends and stock price value as well as long term bad press as the relationship of this patently brutal blood sport to predatory marketing of Bud Light to underage youth are played out on the global stage of public opinion. It’s already being called “Blood Light.” This cannot be good for business, sales, or long-term profitability.
Please, tell me more about how everyone is calling it Blood Light!