CANNES, France — Investors shouldn’t expect Coca-Cola (KO) to follow some other big brands in dabbling in controversial advertising, especially during the 2024 presidential election cycle.
2024 will be “a very important year,” Coca-Cola chief marketing officer Manuel Arroyo told Yahoo Finance Live (video above) at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity on Tuesday. “As it relates to public or political potential controversy and how we play there, it is a very simple answer: We don’t play in that.”
“From a brand safety standpoint, we have very, very clear guidelines — very clear guidelines,” Arroyo added. “We’re going to stay away from any major controversy because there’s a principle here: We are the most inclusive brand.”
Coca-Cola’s safer approach to marketing in today’s polarized society comes amid two major blowups — with stock price aftershocks — at other prominent consumer brands.
ABInBev (BUD), for example, saw Bud Light sales trend lower throughout April and into May after transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney created an Instagram post endorsing the light beer on April 1. The declines appeared to accelerate following an April 3 video from outspoken country musician Kid Rock, which spurred a wider boycott by many on the right.
Bud Light volumes tanked 27.8% year over year for the week ending May 23, per recent Nielsen data. And ABInBev stock is down 12% since April 1.
Alissa Heinerscheid — Bud Light’s vice president of marketing — left the company in late April due to the controversy.
Coincidentally, ABInBev won ‘Creative Marketer of the Year’ for the second straight year at Cannes on Monday.
Target stock is down about 11% since mid-May as investors worry about potential third quarter sales and profit hits from the high-profile fallout.
“Ultimately what we’re saying is we’re a simple beverage,” Arroyo said. “We’re just a soft drink. You don’t expect too much of a soft drink, right? Just enjoy it. Have fun — have fun, and enjoy the pleasure of it.”