Bud Light exec takes ‘leave of absence’ following outcry
The social media storm triggered by Bud Light appearing to celebrate an influencer’s transgender milestone has led to the brand’s marketing executive taking a ‘leave of absence’, according to reports.
Alissa Heinerscheid, the marketing vice president who oversaw a “woke” Bud Light campaign that led to consumers boycotting the brand’s products, is said to have taken a leave of absence from the company following the furore.
While many Americans expressed outrage at Bud Light’s promotional partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, others slammed the beer brand for appearing to flip-flop in the wake of the backlash and issuing a conciliatory statement which only just fell short of apologising for its actions. The company’s senior management has also been robustly criticised for attempting to distance themselves from the controversy, while throwing Heinerscheid under the bus.
Two unnamed but “senior” sources told The Daily Wire that “no one at a senior level was aware of the partnership” and that the decision to design a special beer can for Mulvaney to celebrate her one-year anniversary of coming out as a transgender woman, was taken by a “low-level marketing staffer”.
The issue began on 1 April when influencer Dylan Mulvaney posted a video of herself cracking open a can of Bud Light featuring her face on the can, using the hashtag #budlightpartner.
Ultra conservative Americans swiftly called for a boycott of Budweiser products, which is said to have knocked US$6 billion off the company’s value. Among those who took offence to the campaign was musician Kid Rock, who filmed himself shooting a stash of Bud Light cans with a machine gun.
AB InBev’s stock is down 1.8% in the US since the video was posted on 1 April. However, it is still up by 9.1% for the year, compared with last year.
A podcast recorded one month before the scandal broke heard marketing executive Heinerscheid declare that she intended to dismantle Bud Light’s “fratty” reputation, and make the brand more inclusive to ensure its continued relevance.
“It’s been in decline for a really long time. And if we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand, there will be no future for Bud Light,” she told the Make Yourself at Home podcast on 30 March 2023.
“I had this super clear mandate. We need to evolve and elevate this incredibly iconic brand. What does evolve and elevate mean? It means inclusivity. It means shifting the tone. It means having a campaign that’s truly inclusive and feels lighter and brighter and different. And appeals to women and to men.”
Heinerscheid, who stepped into the Bud Light marketing role in July 2022, has now taken a leave of absence and has been replaced by Todd Allen, former vice president of Budweiser, according to reports by Beer Business and Ad Age.
The brand has also changed the sign-off process on its campaigns to ensure that the company’s most senior marketing personnel will be more closely connected to its marketing activity from now on.