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Managing Brand Crisis: Bud Light Cracks Open a Can of Controversy
Whitler, Kimberly; Baum, Dan; Pasquinelli, Emily Case M-1043 / Published November 29, 2023 / 18 pages.
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Product Overview

This case provides a chronological view of Bud Light’s sponsorship of Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender influencer, and the resulting impact. It helps students and executives consider both the decision-making process when working with influencers and other promotional partners and the steps that can be taken to minimize (and even prevent) the damage that can occur when a brand and business crisis results from a partnership. Students can explore the challenges associated with (1) identifying celebrities/influencers who align with a brand/consumer base/business and (2) managing reputational damage and crisis after it has occurred. The case offers opportunities for a deep dive into strategic partnerships, corporate response to crises, and marketing’s role in preventing or minimizing negative consumer behavior. This case is well suited for undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA (EMBA), and executive education programs. For undergraduate students, it can be placed in a course on brand management, crisis management, brand activism, promotions, marketing strategy, management/leadership communication, or management strategy. For MBA and EMBA students, it can be placed in a first-year core marketing course or an elective on crisis management, management communication, management strategy, or brand management. At Darden, this case is used alongside two others: “Mickey Mouse Takes a Stand: Does Sociopolitical Activism Change the Disney Story?” (UVA-M-1031), and “Coke Puts Its Brand between a Rock and a Hard Place: Aligning Activism with Brand Purpose” (UVA-M-1019).




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  • Overview

    This case provides a chronological view of Bud Light’s sponsorship of Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender influencer, and the resulting impact. It helps students and executives consider both the decision-making process when working with influencers and other promotional partners and the steps that can be taken to minimize (and even prevent) the damage that can occur when a brand and business crisis results from a partnership. Students can explore the challenges associated with (1) identifying celebrities/influencers who align with a brand/consumer base/business and (2) managing reputational damage and crisis after it has occurred. The case offers opportunities for a deep dive into strategic partnerships, corporate response to crises, and marketing’s role in preventing or minimizing negative consumer behavior. This case is well suited for undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA (EMBA), and executive education programs. For undergraduate students, it can be placed in a course on brand management, crisis management, brand activism, promotions, marketing strategy, management/leadership communication, or management strategy. For MBA and EMBA students, it can be placed in a first-year core marketing course or an elective on crisis management, management communication, management strategy, or brand management. At Darden, this case is used alongside two others: “Mickey Mouse Takes a Stand: Does Sociopolitical Activism Change the Disney Story?” (UVA-M-1031), and “Coke Puts Its Brand between a Rock and a Hard Place: Aligning Activism with Brand Purpose” (UVA-M-1019).

  • Learning Objectives