The marketing executive responsible for Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (AB InBev) Bud Light brand is reportedly taking an extended leave of absence, after a partnership between the brand and transgender woman Dylan Mulvaney led to boycotting calls from US anti-trans activists.
Alissa Heinerscheid, Bud Light’s vice president of marketing, will be replaced by Todd Allen, global vice president of Budweiser. Heinerscheid had been in the role since June last year, but will now step back according to a report from AdAge.
The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, reported that Daniel Blake, who oversees marketing for AB InBev’s ‘mainstream’ brands has also taken a leave of absence.
In a statement, AB InBev confirmed Allen’s new responsibilities but made no mention of Heinerscheid or Blake’s leave of absence. The brewer said the changes were intended to “streamline the structure of our marketing function”, enabling its senior marketers to be “more closely connected to every aspect of our brands’ activities”.
AB InBev added the move would “help us maintain focus on the things we do best: brewing great beer for all consumers, while always making a positive impact in our communities and on our country”.
Just Drinks has asked AB InBev for clarification of Heinerscheid’s position and status as an employee.
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The controversy to have engulfed the Bud Light brand began earlier this month after Mulvaney posted a video on her Instagram page of a can of the beer featuring her face. The influencer said Bud Light had sent her the beer to mark her first anniversary since transitioning.
The sponsored post on 1 April was also part of a promotion for the AB InBev brand’s March Madness competition.
However, the partnership was met with a backlash from conservatives and has become a lightning rod for anti-trans sentiment in the US. In the days that followed, US singer Kid Rock posted a video of himself shooting at Bud Light cans, while Donald Trump’s former presidential campaign manager Seth Weathers announced plans to launch a “woke-free beer” called Ultra Right.
AB InBev’s US production facilities have also reportedly faced bomb threats since the debacle.
Last week, the Budweiser brewer broke its silence after shares in the company were sent tumbling by calls to boycott the Bud Light brand. AB InBev’s share price has regained some of the lost ground. On 3 April, its shares stood at €61.16. At 12:21 CEST today, the company’s shares were worth €59.86.
In a carefully worded statement that did not directly address the ad, Brendan Whitworth, CEO of AB InBev’s Anheuser-Busch subsidiary, said the company was “honoured to be part of the fabric of this country”.
“We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people,” Whitworth’s statement said. “We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”