In a move that has ignited a firestorm of controversy, the women’s apparel brand Anthropologie recently shared an advertisement on its Instagram account featuring a male model donning dresses. The decision didn’t sit well with many of their customers, leading to the disabling of comments on the post.
This bold choice to feature a male model in women’s clothing was met with swift and harsh criticism from some of Anthropologie’s loyal customers. Many expressed their dissatisfaction with the brand’s decision, vowing never to shop there again and even hinting at the possibility of a boycott, similar to what occurred with Bud Light in the past.
The caption accompanying the Instagram post attempted to quell the backlash, quoting @theharperwatters: “Never anthro-pologize for being fabulous! Loving these #UnexpectedAndUnforgettable looks.” Despite the attempt at positivity, it only seemed to fan the flames of discontent.
— Caroline (@carolinecwilder) May 6, 2023
One social media user, voicing their frustration in the now-disabled comments section, said, “Seriously? I don’t want to see a man’s bulge as he’s twirling in a dress. This is not the way to go Anthropologie. Looks like my recent purchases are going back to the store.”
“Later Antho. You should’ve learned from Budweiser,” another chimed in. “Taking bets on how many times [Anthropologie] can silence women in one evening… First with the ad, and next disabling comments,” another user added. “You may not hear us, but we’ve certainly gotten your message loud and clear.”
The backlash Anthropologie is facing mirrors the controversy that Bud Light endured after partnering with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney. This decision led to a conservative boycott, resulting in a significant drop in sales for the beer brand.
Conservative commentator Collin Rugg highlighted the impact of the Bud Light boycott, stating, “Absolutely insane. The Bud Light boycott is working. Bud Light sales (outside of restaurants and bars) are down 26.1% for the week ending in April 22nd compared to the previous year. Sales were down 21.1% for the week prior. Volumes are down 8% for the year. Coors Light and Miller Light are picking up the slack as their volume was up 13.3% percent 13.6% for the same time frame. Go woke, go broke.”
Absolutely insane. The Bud Light boycott is working.
Bud Light sales (outside of restaurants and bars) are down 26.1% for the week ending in April 22nd compared to the previous year.
Sales were down 21.1% for the week prior.
Volumes are down 8% for the year.
Coors Light and… pic.twitter.com/8lM7Y0MwMT
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) May 2, 2023
To mitigate the damage and salvage their brand image, Bud Light’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch, distanced itself from Dylan Mulvaney and even terminated the marketing agency responsible for the collaboration. They made it clear that it was not part of a larger campaign but a one-time association.
The question now arises: will Anthropologie face a similar boycott and a significant decline in sales? Only time will tell. However, it appears that some companies haven’t learned from the Bud Light controversy: going woke can indeed lead to going broke.
In the wake of these controversies, it is becoming increasingly evident that companies should be cautious when wading into the waters of social and political issues. The line between progressive activism and customer alienation is a fine one, and missteps can have dire consequences.
It remains to be seen how Anthropologie will respond to the backlash and whether they will rethink their marketing strategies moving forward. One thing is for sure, in today’s polarized climate, every brand’s choices can have far-reaching and unpredictable consequences.