The “Corn War” has been going on since the Super Bowl, when Bud Light used its very expensive air time during the Big Game to call out its competition — Miller Lite and Coors Lite — for using corn syrup in their beers.
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The back and forth between the brewers escalated,with MillerCoors parrying Bud Light’s attacks, but decided enough was enough in March and sued Bud Light’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, alleging the ads are false and misleading.
In late May, a Wisconsin judge ordered AB InBev to stop advertising that MillerCoors’ light beers contain corn syrup, though the order does not affect all of Bud Light’s advertising — it was ruled that the “Special Delivery” ads premiered during the Super Bowl could keep airing. According to the preliminary injunction granted by U.S. District Judge William Conley for the Western District of Wisconsin granted, AB InBev would be temporarily prevented from using the term “corn syrup” without providing more context in ads.
MillerCoors was pleased with the initial ruling, and on Sept. 4 Judge Conley modified the ruling. The court stated:
“Following additional briefing and factual submissions by the parties, the court will now modify its preliminary injunction to cover packaging, but will allow defendant to sell products using the packaging it had on hand as of June 6, 2019, or until March 2, 2020.”
But none of this has really stopped Bud Light, since the brewer has new 15-second ads ready for the start of football season.
While the “brewed with no corn syrup” statement is still made, it’s a bit more subtle than in the past. AB InBev is appealing the judge’s ruling, but seems to have thrown caution to the wind with the new ads.
What do you think marketers? Are you sick and tired of the Corn War, twitching whenever you hear “corn syrup” or are you sitting back and enjoying as the Big 3 breweries fight it out while craft breweries continue to focus on brewing quality, quaffable beverages? Let me know in the comments below!