Two beer executives responsible for marketing Bud Light have taken a leave of absence after mounting pressure from the right after the brand partnered with transgender influencer, model, and actress Dylan Mulvaney recently.
Anti-trans pundits, influencers, and celebrities had a complete meltdown about Mulvaney’s partnership with the brand.
Bud Light’s vice president of marketing, Alissa Heinerscheid, became the target of attacks and criticism, including by conservative media outlets. The complaint was that she oversaw the campaign, which included pressing a unique personalized beer can for Mulvaney as part of Bud Light’s March Madness event.
Daniel Blake, who runs marketing for Anheuser-Busch’s brands, also took a leave of absence, the company said.
“Given the circumstances, Alissa has decided to take a leave of absence which we support,” an Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal. “Daniel has also decided to take a leave of absence.”
According to the paper, sources indicated that the leave was involuntary and that another AB InBev professional had replaced Heinerscheid.
The controversy began after Mulvaney posted a video online drinking Bud Light and thanking the company for “possibly the best gift ever.”
Conservatives reacted violently, literally, to the marketing campaign. While many on the right called for a boycott of Bud Light, some went to extremes. For example, Kid Rock shot up a stack of cases of Bud Light with an automatic rifle in a video he posted on social media. Others have gone to stores that carry the product and have been caught on video vandalizing displays and coolers selling Bud Light.
The company initially stood behind its decision to include a prominent transgender influencer in its marketing campaign, with Heinersheid defending her decision to green-light the project.
But after days of backlash, Anheuser-Busch backtracked with a statement by CEO Brendan Whitworth that appeared apologetic about including Mulvaney.
“We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer,” he wrote.
Then, Anheuser-Busch aired an advertisement that wrapped itself in stereotypical American patriotism and exceptionalism, which is often coded in American society as conservatism. Critics argued that the ad failed to represent people of color or the LGBTQ+ community.
On Friday, the company announced that global vice president of Budweiser Todd Allen would take over Heinerscheid’s role.
Heinerscheid became the first woman in the history of the Bud Light brand to be named to the lead marketing position last June.
In September, Heinderscheid, 39, appeared on Ad Age’s40 Under 40 list. She was also responsible for the company’s Super Bowl ads this year.
That ad was exceptionally well received for its simple creativity. In it, actor Miles Teller and his wife, Keleigh Sperry Teller, spend time on hold during a phone call with the recognizable “Opus Number One” hold song native to Cisco telephone systems.
By the end of the ad, the audience, through the onscreen characters, finds itself enjoying the tune that most have found more annoying than great when subject to its listening.
Mulvaney has not commented on the developments.