Bud Light has used a medieval setting for its television commercials in the last few years, including the popular catch phrase ‘dilly dilly’ featuring the Bud Knight character. It’s also known for debuting new ads during the coveted Super Bowl commercial blocks every February.
This year it released a few ads, including ‘Special Delivery,’ a one-minute spot that depicts a barrel of corn syrup being delivered to Bud Light by mistake. Because they do not use corn syrup in their beer, the knights embark on a quest to deliver the barrel to Miller Lite and Coors Light for their brewing.
The ad sparked an immediate backlash, and MillerCoors has now sued AB InBev in federal court in Wisconsin, alleging the commercial is ‘false and misleading.’ In the official complaint, MillerCoors points out the difference between corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup, which most consumers cannot determine.
“Under the guise of ‘transparency,' AB singled out MillerCoors use of a common brewing fermentation aid, corn syrup, for a deliberate and nefarious purpose: it was aware that many consumers prefer not to ingest ‘high-fructose corn syrup' or ‘HFCS,’ and had reportedly conducted extensive focus group testing in which it found that consumers do not understand the difference between ordinary corn syrup (used by numerous brewers, including AB itself) and HFCS, the controversial sweetener commonly used in soft drinks.”
Since corn syrup is used as a fermentation aid, MillerCoors explains it is never in the glass, bottle or can of Miller Lite or Coors Light that consumers drink. Bud Light also released three 15-second commercials detailing the ingredients difference between the beers.
“AB also uses corn syrup as a fermentation aid in several of its products across various price points, ranging from above-premium brands (such as Stella Artois Cidre, Stella Artois Spritzer, and Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer) to economy brands (Busch, BuschLight, Natural Light, and Bud Ice),” the complaint says.
Since the Bud Light commercial aired last month, MillerCoors has hit back with commercials of its own, parodying the medieval setting of Bud Light’s ads by showcasing the same characters drinking Miller Lite.
Two Miller Lite spots: ‘Aftermath’ and ‘Snow’ aired on television, digital and social channels starting last Thursday during the NCAA college basketball tournament. Coors Light also dropped a commercial advertising a new tap that ‘listens for Bud Light negativity.’
Anup Shah, VP of the Miller Family of brands, said “While Anheuser-Busch is living in a fantasy world, we’re focused on making sure people here in the real world know Miller Lite has more taste, fewer calories and half the carbs of Bud Light.”
Bud Light issued another short ad in reply to the new MillerCoors commercials, which says, “If you’re this set on imitating our kingdom, may I suggest also imitating us by putting an ingredients label on your packaging. People want to know what ingredients are in their beer.”
In the lawsuit, MillerCoors “seeks to set the record straight, enjoin AB’s false and misleading advertising claims, and obtain monetary and other relief for damages incurred.”