Don Lemon isn’t the only one out of a job this week — two Bud Light executives have been placed on leave following widespread backlash to the company’s partnership with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney.
Alissa Heinerscheid, Bud Light’s vice president of marketing, has been replaced by Todd Allen, who was formerly Budweiser’s vice president of global marketing. Heinerscheid and Daniel Blake, who manages Anheuser-Busch’s marketing, oversaw the company’s collaboration with Mulvaney. A replacement has not been announced for Blake, who is Heinerscheid’s boss.
The Wall Street Journal reported that, according to a source familiar with the matter, their decisions to take leaves of absence were involuntary. Heinerscheid has held her position since June 2022, and Blake has worked at Anheuser-Busch for nine years.
Mulvaney, who made a name for himself by documenting his gender transition on TikTok, shared a video in which he promoted Bud Light and showcased a personalized can the company sent him to commemorate his 365th “day of girlhood.” The can has an image of Mulvaney’s face and the inscription “Cheers to 365 Days.”
Following Mulvaney’s video, conservatives began to boycott the company.
On April 13, CNN reported that “inclusive campaigns are, in fact, often lucrative for businesses, serving as an important tool to reach key demographics.” Heinerscheid believed this, too, hoping to appeal to younger consumers by jumping on the bandwagon of progressive marketing.
The experts have been contradicted by the dropoff in Bud Light’s sales over the past three weeks. In the week immediately following Mulvaney’s video, which was posted on April 1, sales of Bud Light dropped 11 percent in volume. The following week, sales fell 21 percent in volume. Competitors Coors Light and Miller Lite have profited off of the “staggering” decline in Bud Light sales.
“The full damage will likely take weeks, perhaps months, to assess, and there have been off-the-record grumblings from Bud Light executives who felt ‘blindsided’ by the stunt,” wrote conservative commentator Josh Hammer. (RELATED: The Only Way Out Is Through)
On April 14, Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth released a statement that addressed the boycott. According to Whitworth, the company “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people.”
— Anheuser-Busch (@AnheuserBusch) April 14, 2023
But the brand has allied itself with LGBTQ activists for years. In the mid-1990s, Bud Light hired a brand manager to “interact with LGBT groups and provide materials for them,” a veteran of Anheuser-Busch brand management told National Review. Bud Light has partnered with the LGBTQ activist organization GLAAD since the 1990s.
Anheuser-Busch distributors will reportedly meet with the company Tuesday to learn how the company plans to handle the negative sales trends. Fox News reported that Bud Light has brought on consultants with “experience in Washington, D.C.’s, conservative circles to advise the brand moving forward.”
Mary Frances Myler is a postgraduate fellow with the Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government.
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