The distinctions between business, politics, and sports have become increasingly hazy during the past ten years. And Megan Rapinoe, more than any other athlete, eloquently embodies that juncture. Rapinoe has just been introduced as the new Bud Light brand ambassador. This partnership is a reflection of the altering dynamics in brand endorsements and how closely they relate to socio-political discourse, in addition to Rapinoe’s developing star power.
Megan Rapinoe has a stellar resume in football, having won two World Cup titles, an Olympic gold medal, and dominating the international scene for more than a decade. Rapinoe has drawn considerable attention – and criticism – for her outspoken political views, though, off the pitch.
She has received numerous “anti-American” slurs from her detractors, particularly as a result of her choice to imitate Colin Kaepernick’s protest of racial injustice and police brutality by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem. This action was seen as a brave display of civil disobedience by her followers. It was interpreted by her critics as a disrespectful gesture towards the country and its symbols.
Rapinoe is an unusual option for a commercial endorsement because of her strong combination of athletic prowess and political involvement. To maintain a wide appeal, brands often favour non-controversial personalities. But there has been a change in recent years. Even if a person’s opinion is divisive, brands are more and more keen to connect themselves with them. Additionally, Rapinoe’s partnership with Bud Light is a risky move in this shifting environment.
So why would Bud Light, one of the most recognisable beer brands in America, pick Rapinoe?
Younger customers today place a high emphasis on authenticity, especially millennials and Generation Z. They favour businesses that take a stand and are regarded as socially conscious. With her unabashed advocacy, Rapinoe might appeal to this group.
Rapinoe is a discussion starter, whether you like her or dislike her. Being associated with her guarantees that Bud Light will continue to be discussed in the media and in public.
The US is changing. The acknowledgment of systemic problems and the inclusion of other points of view are spreading. Bud Light would perceive a reflection of the contemporary American attitude in Rapinoe—one that challenges, questions, and constantly strives for improvement.
Of course, making such a choice carries some risk. Due to her alleged “anti-American” position, a sizeable portion of Americans would not like Rapinoe’s affiliation with Bud Light. Boycotts, bad press, and online outrage are valid worries.
Nike, a company that supported Kaepernick, first encountered resistance; nonetheless, their sales subsequently increased. It’s uncertain whether Bud Light will follow a similar path.
A new era of brand endorsements has begun with the alliance between Rapinoe and Bud Light. A celebrity’s face on a product isn’t enough anymore. It’s about principles, controversies, and sometimes stories.
The wager made by Bud Light is a daring one. Only time will tell if it pays off in terms of increased sales and brand recognition. One thing is certain, though: companies are now more than ever prepared to enter the socio-political sphere and challenge the conventional endorsement rules.
In the end, Rapinoe’s partnership with Bud Light is about more than just making money. It’s a mirror of how America is changing as well as how sports, politics, and business are changing. It serves as a conversation starter, which may be Bud Light’s goal: to be at the centre of the discussion.