The allegations, made by rival brewer Anheuser-Busch, concern radio and print ads referencing Taste Protector caps and lids for bottles and cans.
The National Advertising Division (NAD), a self regulatory body, recommended that some claims be modified as they gave the misleading impression that MillerCoors had new or special packaging to offer.
Advertising slogans included statements such as “Miller Lite Cans have a Taste Protector Lid. The special barrier blocks out that metal can taste and locks in that Great Pilsner Taste.”
The NAD said consumers could interpret claims like this to suggest that MillerCoors has improved its caps and lids with the addition of a “special barrier” that better preserves the taste of beer.
But the watchdog said MillerCoors conceded that it had made no changes to its bottle cap or lid that could be thought to constitute a technological advance. Furthermore, the NAD noted that the packaging technology used by the company is comparable to that used by competitors.
To avoid confusion, the NAD recommended that MillerCoors remove references to the “special seal” and “special barrier” and avoid prominent references to the “Great Taste Deserves Great Protection.” It was judged that these statements convey the unsupported message of a production innovation or enhancement.
The NAD noted that advertisers have a right to change their promotion to highlight different features of a product but said that they must do so truthfully and avoid any potential overstatement or consumer confusion.
MillerCoors said in reaction to the assessment that it disagreed but would take into account recommendations from the NAD in future advertising. The advertising slogans in question were discontinued before the investigation took place.
The NAD has no power to force MillerCoors to exact specific changes as the watchdog operates through voluntary self-regulation.