Two Bud Light executives quit after boycott calls

Alyssa Heinerscheid is taking a leave of absence as vice president of marketing for Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Bud Light brand following calls for a boycott of the brand over her work with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Heinerscheid chief Daniel Blake, who oversees marketing for Anheuser-Busch’s core Budweiser and Bud Light brands, also took a leave of absence, a company spokesman told The Wall Street Journal.

Heinerscheid, who has been in the role since June 2022, will be replaced by Todd Allen, the company said Barron’s in an email. Blake has worked at Anheuser-Busch for nearly nine years. The company has not announced who will replace him.

An Anheuser-Busch InBev (ticker: BUD ) spokesman said. Barron’s he communicated some next steps with his employees and with wholesale partners, including that “the safety and well-being of our employees and our partners is our top priority” and that Allen has been appointed vice president of Bud Light, reporting directly to Benoit Garbe. US 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 aligned with every aspect of our brands’ activities,” the company said in the email. “These steps will help us keep our focus on what we do best: making great beer for all consumers, while always making a positive impact in our communities and our country.”

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Mulvaney, who has 10.8 million followers on social media and has worked with other high-profile brands such as Nike ( NKE ), posted a video of herself on Instagram on April 1 opening a can of Bud Light and used the hashtag #budlightpartner. In the video, she showed off a custom Bud Light can with her photo on it to celebrate her 365th day of womanhood.

That post sparked praise and outrage, with conservative commentators calling for a boycott of the beer. Musician Kid Rock shared a video of himself shooting Bud Light cans with a shotgun.

Others applauded the brand for being inclusive, and Mulvaney gained even more followers on social media. The head of Bud Light said in a statement that the company “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We’re in the business of bringing people together over beer.”

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Citigroup analyst Simon Hales wrote at the time that “We believe the recent backlash in some parts of the US to Bud Light’s new ad campaign featuring Dylan Mulvaney has been overblown.”

But Bud Light sales fell 10.7% for the week ended April 8, Beer Business Daily reported.

Then came Heinerscheid’s own remarks about changing Bud Light’s marketing approach. In a podcast made before the Mulvaney controversy, she called previous marketing efforts “unpleasant” and “out of touch,” according to AdAge.

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The Journal quoted Heinerscheid’s comments from a podcast earlier this year, saying, “I had a really clear job when I took over Bud Light. It was, this brand is in decline, it’s been in decline for a really long time, and if we don’t get young drinkers to come and drink this brand, there’s no future for Bud Light.”

Shares of Anheuser-Busch InBev are up 9.1% so far this year, outpacing the S&P 500’s 7.7% gain, while shares of other beverage makers, including Constellation Brands ( STZ ), are down 2. 3% this year, Boston Beer Co. (SAM), down 2.2%, and Diageo PLC (DEO), up 6%.

But shares of rival Molson Coors Beverage’s ( TAP ), whose U.S. brands include Miller Lite, Coors Light, Carling, Madrí, Simply Spiked, Topo Chico and Staropramen, are up 13.2% this year.

TD Cowen analysts wrote in a research note that while the first quarter was seasonally small for Molson Coors

beer sales tracked by Nielsen are strong, and its stock “shows short-term benefits from consumer boycotts of Bud Light.”

Write to Janet H. Cho at [email protected]

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