By Jordan Valinsky | CNN affairs
Beer ads try to be funny, but a regulatory group has ruled that out Molson Coors went too far with a recent ad comparing rivals’ light beer to water.
The National Advertising Division, part of the Better Business Bureau, sided with Anheuser-Busch, which is challenging a 2022 ad for Miller Lite that featured the phrase “light beer shouldn’t taste like water, it should taste like beer.” The agency said Molson Coors should “stop” the ad because it is “not floaty or mere opinion.”
In the 15 seconds spot, a cyclist pauses uphill, opens a beer and pours it over himself. No specific beers were mentioned, but the beer uses a similar blue color that adorns the Bud Light packaging. NAD said it “determined that tasting ‘like water’ is a measurable attribute” and that customers “may reasonably expect the statement to be supported by such evidence.”
NAD said the ad had to be discontinued because Molson Coors “has not submitted evidence to support the claim that other light beers ‘taste like water’.”
In response, Anheuser-Busch said it “appreciates” NAD’s decision.
“True stewards of the beer industry should work together to strengthen the beer category rather than resort to deceptive attacks that belittle products enjoyed by millions of beer drinkers,” an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson said in a statement.
Molson Coors is appealing the decision, saying he “strongly disagrees with this decision because we believe that light beer should taste like beer, not water, and we have a right to share that belief.” A spokesperson also asked about Anheuser-Busch’s “sudden concern” about the ad since it hasn’t aired since last August.
NAD’s decisions are not legally binding, but most advertisers stick to their decision. If an advertiser fails to comply, the ads will be referred to the Federal Trade Commission for further investigation.
This isn’t the first time that Molson Coors and Anheuser-Busch, the top-selling beer companies in the US, have challenged each other. Molson Coors sued Anheuser-Busch in 2019 over Super Bowl ads that accused the maker of Miller Lite and Coors Light for saying its beer was sweetened with rice instead of corn syrup. The case was dismissed.
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