Alissa Heinerscheid, Bud Light Marketing Vice President, on a 'leave of absence' following Dylan Mulvaney controversy
(YAHOO/KAKE) - Despite "expert" insistence that the controversy surrounding Anheuser-Bush's decision to partner with a trans influencer and activist would be short-lived and not affect the business's bottom line, it the company has indicated that Bud Light marketing VP Alissa Heinerscheid is taking a leave of absence, Yahoo reports.
Heinerscheid, who has led the brand since June, will be replaced by Budweiser global marketing VP Todd Allen, according to Ad Age. Bud Light and Anheuser-Busch have faced a tsunami of backlash for their partnership with the trans influencer and activist, famous for her “365 Days of Girlhood” video series, which chronicled the first year of her transition. Anheuser-Busch has faced cascading problems, including cancelled events with the iconic Budweiser Clydesdale horses, a stock price that’s tanked, and many, many prominent Americans voicing their opposition, including Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas), Kid Rock, and Travis Tritt.
“If we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand, there will be no future for Bud Light,” the beer’s VP of marketing explained last month. “What I brought to that was a belief in, okay, 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.”
That line of thinking doesn't appear to be paying off, as Heinerscheid’s immediate future at Bud Light has now been cut short. The executive became the first woman to lead Bud Light in the brand’s 40-year history and was recognized by Ad Age in 2022 as one of the 40 under 40 rising stars in marketing, advertising, and media. She was promoted to her current position after a nearly eight-year tenure at Anheuser-Busch in various marketing roles, including a recent stint as VP of direct-to-consumer marketing, which includes e-commerce. She created the role of Bud Light Blue VP, which refers to the main brand, proposing it to a top Anheuser-Busch executive through a 30-page pitch. It came after nearly four years of working on Bud Light, including overseeing the 2019 Game of Thrones Super Bowl ad.
“Today, we communicated some next steps with our internal teams and wholesaler partners,” explained an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson. “First, we made it clear that the safety and welfare of our employees and our partners is our top priority. Second, Todd Allen is appointed Vice President of Bud Light reporting directly to Benoit Garbe, U.S. Chief Marketing Officer. Third, 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. These steps 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 Daily Wire reported that senior executives hadn't been told about a decision to green-light the Mulvaney partnership.
According to a statement obtained by Ad Age from City Distributors, an Anheuser-Busch distributor based in Topeka, Kansas, the custom can decision, featuring Mulvaney’s face, “circumvented the proper approval channels.”
It’s unclear if Heinerscheid’s current replacement will be made permanent or what her future at Anheuser-Busch is.
Mulvaney, who has been invited by President Biden to the White House and has attracted a number of lucrative business partnerships with brands like Nike, responded to the controversy earlier this month, appearing on an episode of iHeartPodcasts’s Onward With Rosie O’ Donnell.
“The reason I think I’m an easy target is because I’m still new to this. I think going after a trans woman who has been doing this for 20 years is a lot more difficult,” Mulvaney said.
“I have watched it get so much worse, as my timeline has gone on and it’s been very kind of odd to compare the two, my transition as well as all this anti-trans legislation simultaneously,” Mulvaney added.
Anheuser-Busch acknowledged the controversy in a statement last week, backtracking to a degree.
“We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer,” wrote CEO Brendan Whitworth.
Bud Light has lost billions of dollars since the controversy began.