Add Anheuser-Busch to the list of major companies working to help save Black-owned businesses, which are struggling more than most during the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn.
The beer maker’s new Bud Light “Thursday Night Shoutout” ad series, which promotes Black-owned restaurants, is set to debut during the NFL’s Thursday Night Football game. Bud Light said four commercials are in the works and expect more will be made throughout the season.
Each commercial will tell the story of a Black-owned restaurant and the owner whose hard work made it a reality.
“Over the course of the NFL Thursday Night Football season, Bud Light will continue to shout out various Black-owned restaurants in select host cities, with dedicated advertisements across national broadcast and Bud Light digital channels,” the company said in an emailed statement.
The first 30-second spot tells the story of Cleveland native Gregory Beckham, 56, owner of three Beckham’s B&M Bar B Que locations. The Cleveland Browns play the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday.
Beckham, whose father started the family business in 1958, said Bud Light reached out to him in August and asked if he’d like to be featured.
“I was more than happy to be a part of it,” he told CNN Business. “I was chosen to be the first one, so that was even more of a thrill.”
In the ad, Beckham explains the values his father taught him about running his own restaurant.
“You take care of the community and they’ll take care of you,” Beckham says in the commercial. “You cook with love, man. You cook from your heart and it’ll show off in return.”
Government shutdowns and social distancing mandates designed to limit the spread of Covid-19 have decimated independent restaurants this year. In March and April, the industry shed nearly 6 million jobs. More than 40% of Black business owners nationwide said in April that they were no longer working, according to a University of California Santa Cruz study, which also revealed only 15% of White business owners said the same.
Black entrepreneurs have also struggled the most to get approved for PPP loans. Companies like Discover and celebrities like Beyoncé and Alicia Keys have launched programs in recent weeks and months to help address the problem.
Beckham said his business has been down by roughly 25% throughout the pandemic. He was approved for a PPP loan earlier this year.
“It’s been a pretty good struggle,” he said. “All of the dine-ins, we shut all that off. We’re basically just doing carry out and Door Dash and things of that sort now.”
Bud Light and the food app directory EatOkra are also encouraging the public to find and support Black-owned restaurants in their local communities during the promotion.
“We hope this series motivates fans to seek and support more Black-owned restaurants when looking for game day bites,” EatOkra Co-Founder and Developer Anthony Edwards said in a statement.