The Bud Light marketing executive who was behind the controversial ad campaign with trans activist Dylan Mulvaney has taken a leave of absence, according to a report. Alissa Heinerscheid, who joined as vice president of marketing for the popular beer in June 2022, will be replaced by Budweiser global marketing VP Todd Allen, Ad Age reported on Friday.
Heinerscheid was hired by Anheuser-Busch to overhaul the image of the brand. However, the recent partnership deal with Mulvaney, which was overseen by her team, backfired. Since then, the brand has lost over $6 billion in market value. It is unclear if Heinerscheid's replacement will be permanent.
Missing from the Scene
It is also not clear if Heinerscheid was forced to go on leave or if it was a voluntary decision. Bud Light parent Anheuser-Busch is yet to make an official announcement on appointing Allen as Heinerscheid's replacement.
The Bud Light Super Bowl commercial with Miles Teller and his wife Keleigh Sperry, as well as the Bud Light Carry commercial, which depicts a lady delivering a round of beers to a group of friends without spilling a drop, were both created by Heinerscheid's team.
She has referred to this as her "passion point," and those advertisements were a part of her plan to make the company more appealing to women.
That vision, however, was swiftly cut down on April 3 when the company went into a partnership deal with Mulvaney, a controversial trans activist with a mass following on social media.
Bud Light sent Mulvaney custom-made cans with her face at the conclusion of her transition, which she termed "365 Days of Girlhood." Mulvaney revealed this in an Instagram post on April 1 with the hashtag #budlightpatner. Later, she shared a new video of herself drinking one of the beers in a bathtub.
However, the move was seen as a step too far by Bud Light's devoted patrons, and the brand's connection with Mulvaney was swiftly cut down.
One of the first to slam the partnership and spearhead a boycott was Kid Rock, who was followed by other conservative buyers, sellers, and distributors.
Heinerscheid has not responded to the controversy.
No End to Controversy
It needs to be seen if Heinerscheid's exit from the post will help the brand regain its lost image. Heinerscheid came with the vision of rebuilding the brand image and was doing a decent job but one mistake proved lethal for the company and now her career is also at stake.
Before launching the partnership and ad featuring Mulvaney in a bathtub, Heinerscheid told the "Make Yourself at Home" podcast that she wanted to transform Bud Light's brand.
"I'm a businesswoman, I had a really clear job to do when I took over Bud Light, and it was 'This brand is in decline, it's been in a decline for a really long time, and if we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand, there will be no future for Bud Light,'" Heinerscheid said.
Heinerscheid also slammed Anheuser-Busch's previous branding, saying: "We had this hangover, I mean Bud Light had been kind of a brand of fratty, kind of out-of-touch humor, and it was really important that we had another approach."
The decision to rope in Mulvaney infuriated many devoted patrons, including country musician Travis Tritt, who decided to remove all the goods from his tour bus, and Kid Rock, who decided to shoot at numerous cases of Bud Lite.
Critics labeled Heinerscheid a hypocrite when her remarks about the "fratty" culture she despised while a student at Harvard went viral and she was accused of being a hypocrite when pictures of the executive appeared to show her enjoying it.
After her comments went viral amid the controversy, critics called Heinerscheid a hypocrite when photos surfaced appearing to show the exec enjoying the "fratty" culture she dismissed while a student at Harvard.
Photos from Heinerscheid's since-deleted Facebook page show her enjoying a campus scavenger hunt, blowing condoms like balloons, and drinking beer during a "boozefest" in 2006.
Heinerscheid and her college friends can be seen in an album named "Isis Senior Reverse Initiation Scavenger Hunt" wherein they are discussing "the exploration of the scrotum professors."
The Harvard ISIS Club, an organization formed to promote a "safe social place for women" to mingle on campus, appears to have organized the event at which the photos appear to have been taken.
Nonetheless, the club was criticized by the Harvard Crimson student newspaper in 2005 as a "haven of drunken ditzes" who participated in "boozefests."
That said, Bud Light first defended the decision despite the immediate response from the collaboration with Mulvaney before last week apologizing only half-heartedly to its devoted customers.
"We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people," Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Brendan Whitworth said in a press release. "We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer."