Beer ads try to be funny, but a regulatory group has determined that Molson Coors went too far with a recent ad that compares rivals' light beer to water.
The National Advertising Division, which is part of the Better Business Bureau, sided with Anheuser-Busch, which challenged a 2022 ad for Miller Lite that uses the phrase "light beer shouldn't taste like water, it should taste like beer." The agency said that Molson Coors should "discontinue" the ad because is "not puffery or a mere opinion."
In the 15-second spot, a cyclist takes a break from riding uphill, cracks open a beer and douses himself with it. No specific beers were mentioned, however the beer uses a similar blue color that adorns Bud Light packaging. NAD said that it "determined that tasting 'like water' is a measurable attribute" and that customers might "reasonably expect that the statement is supported by such evidence."
NAD said the ad should be discontinued because Molson Coors "did not submit evidence supporting the claim that any other light beers 'taste like water.'"
In response, Anheuser-Busch said it "appreciates" NAD's decision.
"True stewards of the beer industry should be working together to strengthen the beer category instead of resorting to misleading attacks that denigrate products enjoyed by millions of beer drinkers," an Anheuser- Busch spokesperson said in a statement.
Molson Coors is appealing the decision, saying it "vehemently disagrees with this decision because we believe light beer should taste like beer, not water, and we are well within our right to share that belief." A spokesperson also questioned to Anheuser-Busch's "sudden concern" with the ad since it hasn't aired since last August.
NAD's decisions aren't legally binding, however most advertisers comply with their decision. If an advertiser doesn't comply, the ads are referred to the Federal Trade Commission for further scrutiny.
This isn't the first time Molson Coors and Anheuser-Busch, which are the top-selling beer makers in the US, have challenged each other. Molson Coors sued Anheuser-Busch in 2019 over Super Bowl ads that accused the Miller Lite and Coors Light maker for saying its beer was sweetened with rice rather than corn syrup. The case was dismissed.
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