Cans of Bud Light beer. The brand has faced backlash after a collaboration with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.Anheuser-Busch has decided to shake up its marketing leadership after its Bud Light brand became, quite literally, a target for conservatives angered by a campaign featuring a transgender social media influencer.
Alissa Heinerscheid, who oversaw Bud Light marketing, has taken a "leave of absence" and Todd Allen, vice president of global marketing for Budweiser, has been appointed, Beer Business Daily reported.
Anheuser-Busch confirmed Allen's new duties in a statement to USA TODAY: "We have made some adjustments to streamline the structure of our marketing function to reduce layers so that our most senior marketers are more closely connected to every aspect of our brands activities."
The moves, the statement said, "will 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."
The actions come after prominent conservatives criticized Bud Light for partnering with TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney to promote a contest. In an April 1 Instagram post, Mulvaney displayed a personalized Bud Light can with an image of her face printed on the front and discussed the company’s $15,000 giveaway tied to March Madness.
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Subsequently, some conservatives including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, as well as musicians Kid Rock and Travis Tritt, have called for a boycott of Bud Light. Kid Rock posted to Twitter a video of himself shooting 12-packs of Bud Light.
The Anheuser-Busch backlash also comes amid a rise in anti-trans legislation.
Anheuser-Busch CEO's response to the backlashLast week, Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth posted a statement in response to the controversy, saying, “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people," wrote in a statement released Friday afternoon. "We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”
Anheuser-Busch's move was confirmed by Ad Age.
In an interview on the Make Yourself At Home podcast last month – before the Bud Light-Mulvaney video was posted – Heinerschied said her charge was to help Bud Light, which she described as a brand "in decline" to "attract young drinkers."
Bud Light, she said on the podcast, "had been kind of a brand of fratty, kind of out of touch humor and it was really important that we had another approach."
In related news, a Bud Light did not put up a billboard in Toronto saying, “lol CRYBABIES,” after the brand was targeted by a boycott over its partnership with Mulvaney. Altered images of the billboard were being shared online, The Associated Press reported.
Shares of Anheuser-Busch InBev have risen 5.3% in the past month, closing at $65.52 on Friday.
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Contributing: Bailey Schulz
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