Bud Light Execs Are Put On Leave Over Collab With Trans Activist

In the hullabaloo over a partnership with trans TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney, two Anheuser-Busch InBev marketing executives have been placed on leave: Bud Light's VP of Marketing Alissa Heinerscheid and group VP of marketing for AB InBev mainstream brands Daniel Blake. Most famous for her series "365 Days of Womanhood," Mulvaney documents her journey through public transition. Bud Light sent her a specially printed can featuring her image and Mulvaney announced a March Madness giveaway, sparking controversy and now, changes in management. Blake has been with AB InBev for over nine years. Heinerscheid, with AB for eight years, is the first woman to lead the brand in its entire 40 years and will be replaced by global marketing VP Todd Allen. Though a statement from the company said Heinerscheid had "decided" to take a leave of absence, other sources said it was not voluntary.

The move comes after outsized backlash from the ultra-conservative segment of the brand's customer base. Singer Kid Rock released a video on social media of him shooting Bud Light cans with a machine gun, and GOP politicians like Rep Dan Crenshaw have rushed to denounce the partnership and call for a boycott. Since Mulvaney's Instagram post on April 1, AB InBev's stock has fallen 1.8%, though it is still up 9.1% year-over-year. More seriously, Budweiser facilities in Los Angeles and elsewhere have been evacuated and swept after receiving bomb threats, Patch reports. Events scheduled in Missouri have been canceled over safety concerns. All because of one ad.

Where Bud really stands on LGBT issues

Though standing for or against Bud Light is the marker in identity politics du jour, its status as a queer icon — or even as an LGBTQ ally — isn't a given. AB InBev made at least 48 donations totaling $35,350 to 29 anti-LGBTQ legislators between 2015 and 2021. In the last 33 years, it donated $20,133,973 to the Republican party, including $10,000 to Idaho Governor Brad Little's 2022 campaign. Gov. Little has recently signed multiple anti-trans bills, including one that bans and makes it a felony for medical professionals to provide gender-affirming care for trans youth. While supporting these candidates for office, AB InBev was simultaneously promoting rainbow Bud Light cans and its 2022 partnership with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

Many of the Bud Light boycotters have opted for other beer giants, such as MolsonCoors, a liquor store owner told Vox. Rep Dan Crenshaw's Instagram reel decrying AB InBev shows a fridge stocked with Topo Chico, a MolsonCoors owned brand (as well as Karbach, an AB InBev brand). MolsonCoors, of course, proudly discusses its Tap Into Change program on its website, which has raised over $700,000 in ten years benefitting LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS non-profit organizations and is in the midst of a three year $1 million partnership with the Human Rights Campaign, an organization at the forefront of the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. As they say, drink responsibly.