Anheuser-Busch InBev has placed on leave two marketing executives who oversaw a Bud Light collaboration with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney that has incited right-wing backlash against the company. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news.
Alissa Heinerscheid, Bud Light's vice president of marketing, and Daniel Blake, group vice president of marketing for AB InBev's mainstream brands, took leaves of absence, per a Sunday statement. People familiar with the matter told the Journal that the decision to take leave wasn't voluntary.
"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," according to a statement by a company spokesperson. "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.”
Todd Allen, most recently vice president of global marketing for Budweiser, will fill Heinerscheid's role, while the company did not announce a replacement for Blake. As of press time, AB InBev had not responded to a request for confirmation of the news.
The executive shakeup follows weeks of extensive coverage by right-wing media and calls for boycotts by conservatives angered by Bud Light's collaboration with Mulvaney. The brand sent the influencer a personalized Bud Light can emblazoned with a picture of her face to celebrate the first anniversary of her gender transition.
Mulvaney shared the collaboration on Instagram on April 1. Until announcing these executive leaves of absence, AB InBev has mostly remained quiet about the controversy, except for a vague statement by CEO Brendan Whitworth that said the company "never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people."
The news comes amid a broader attack on transgender rights by state legislatures that has entangled brands looking to meet countervailing demands for greater diversity, equity and inclusion in marketing.