Bud Light exec takes leave after boycott calls, reports say

Cans of Bud Light beer are seen in Washington, Thursday Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The marketing executive who oversaw a partnership between Bud Light and a transgender influencer is taking a leave of absence after it snowballed into cries for boycotts from some angry customers, according to media reports.

Alissa Heinerscheid, Bud Light’s vice president of marketing, will be replaced by Todd Allen, most recently global vice president of Budweiser, according to reports from Beer Business Daily and Ad Age.

A spokesperson for Bud Light’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, on Saturday did not directly confirm the leave of absence but said Allen as vice president of Bud Light will report directly to Benoit Garbe, U.S. chief marketing officer. The company also made streamlining changes so that its most senior marketers are more closely connected to all of its brand activities.

The partnership between the blue-emblazoned beer brand and Dylan Mulvaney, who has more than 10.8 million followers on social media, hit the internet on April 1. That’s when Mulvaney posted a video on Instagram showing herself cracking open a can of Bud Light, one with the hashtag #budlightpartner.

Companies have broadened efforts to attract customers and employees across racial, cultural and other lines as the country continues to diversify. In many cases, their own shareholders have pushed them to become more inclusive in hopes of improved returns.

Earlier this month, Bud Light said, “Anheuser-Busch works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics.”

But the Bud Light-Mulvaney partnership quickly brought an onslaught of criticism from people who said they’re angry about the world going “woke.” Musician Kid Rock posted a video of himself shooting cans of Bud Light with a rifle.

Anheuser-Busch InBev’s stock that trades in the United States is down 1.8% since Mulvaney’s April 1 video showing herself taking a sip of Bud Light. But the stock is still up 9.1% for the year so far, more than the broad U.S. stock market, as measured by the S&P 500.