The maker of Bud Light, Anheuser-Busch, said on Tuesday that two of its executives were on a leave of absence after the beer was featured in a social media promotion by a transgender influencer.
Bud Light’s sales have slumped amid calls for a boycott because of the advertisement and criticism of the company’s response to the backlash, which included targeted harassment of one of the executives who is on leave.
Alissa Heinerscheid, the vice president of marketing for Bud Light, and Daniel Blake, who oversees marketing for Anheuser-Busch’s mainstream brands, were on leave, the company said in a statement.
“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,” Anheuser-Busch said in a statement. “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.”
The company’s turmoil began on April 1, when a transgender influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, posted a video on her Instagram account to promote a Bud Light March Madness contest to her 1.8 million followers. In her post, which was less than a minute long, she said that the company had sent her a tallboy can of Bud Light with her face on it. An image of the can was edited into the video.
Within days, conservative celebrities and politicians called for a boycott of the brand. These calls were then followed by calls for a reverse boycott, or buycott, encouraging people to buy Bud Light to show support for the marketing.