Days before Bud Light struck a controversial sponsorship deal with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney, an executive at the company said the "fratty" and "out of touch" Bud Light needs to "attract young drinkers" with "inclusivity."
"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,' vice president of marketing Alissa Heinerscheid said on March 30.
The company’s partnership with Mulvaney was revealed on April 1 and featured cans designed with his face and videos of the activist drinking Bud Light in a bathtub. The sponsorship came amid Mulvaney's celebration of "365 Days of Girlhood."
Nike has faced criticism for its own partnership with Mulvaney, who wore female clothing in an ad for the sportswear company.
Heinerscheid said she "brought" a "belief" of "inclusivity," which "means shifting the tone, it means having a campaign that’s truly inclusive, and feels lighter and brighter and different, and appeals to women and to men."
The partnership sparked backlash online, with country stars ending their relationships with the company. Singers Travis Tritt and John Rich announced they would boycott Bud Light's parent company Anheuser-Busch after the promotion. Kid Rock posted a video shooting Bud Light cases in protest.
Bud Light has gone silent on social media since the blowup.
Anheuser-Busch defended the move, saying it helped the company "authentically connect with audiences."
"From time to time we produce unique commemorative cans for fans and for brand influencers, like Dylan Mulvaney, an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson told Fox News. "This commemorative can was a gift to celebrate a personal milestone and is not for sale to the general public."