June 24, 2016 – The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina filed a federal lawsuit over unauthorized use of its trademarked logo and slogan in several convenience stores promoting Bud Light.
The Tribe’s slogan “Heritage, Pride & Strength” was plastered strategically under the Bud Light logo as a part of a promotional banner wall above beer coolers, along with the Tribe’s logo of a black circle divided into four quadrants colored white to represent the north, black the west, red the south and yellow the east.
The Tribe’s Chairman, Harvey Godwin, Jr., posted the following on his Facebook page:
“I want to inform the tribal membership that the Lumbee Tribe did in no way authorize R.A. Jeffries, the local Budweiser distributor, to use the tribe’s logo, website information or an image of a tribal dancer in a recent beer advertisement posted at several area convenience stores. As alcohol and drug abuse are often associated with Native American culture, the use of the Lumbee tribal brand and an image of a Native American dancer in an advertisement promoting an alcohol product is viewed as particularly offensive to Lumbee People. I made contact with officials today at Anheuser-Busch to resolve this matter. I will provide an update to the Lumbee People as more information is available. As your Lumbee Tribal Chairman, I vow to make sure those responsible for this offensive ad will be held accountable.”
Anheuser-Busch apologized and blamed the local Budweiser distributor who immediately removed the signs and took full responsibility. It is not unusual for a distributor to instigate advertising or promotions as a part of their marketing efforts.
It was particularly offensive to the Tribe because alcohol abuse is often associated with Native American culture. It also created the impression that the Lumbee Tribe was affiliated with Budweiser.
No word on whether Tribe Chairman Godwin intends to pursue the suit.