There’s been much ado about Bud Light’s 2019 Super Bowl commercials slighting rival brands Miller Lite and Coors Light for using corn syrup in their beers. It seemed to be a slick move at first, but the campaign could prove detrimental to the beer industry as a whole, MillerCoors argues.
Bud Light parent Anheuser-Busch InBev, MillerCoors parent Molson Coors, along with Constellation Brands and Heineken, had plans in the works to collaborate on an industry-wide, non-brand-specific campaign to turn prospective consumers’ attention away from wine and spirits. Competition from these categories, along with cannabis and sobriety, are eating into beer sales.
However, in light of the light beer scandal (#corntroversy will never get old), MillerCoors pulled out of a meeting scheduled for the megabrewers next month. MillerCoors’ Pete Marino called the initiative a “waste of time and money … the dominant industry leader is spending millions of dollars demonizing beer ingredients,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Over the last 20 years, beer’s share of the U.S. alcohol market dropped from 56 percent to 45.5 percent, while spirits increased from 28.2 percent to 37.3 percent, and wine from 15.8 percent to 17.2 percent, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.
By “demonizing” its brands, MillerCoors believes Bud Light is harming the beer category overall — notably because many brewers use corn syrup in their recipes.
The corn-syrup-damning campaign — which also appears on billboards in multiple languages — “threatens to single-handedly set back the health of our category for a long time,” Marino said.
Meanwhile, all three of these beers — Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light — are suffering. Bud Light and Miller Lite volumes decreased more than 25 percent in the last 10 years, and Coors Light dipped 13 percent, according to data from Beer Marketer’s Insights. This amounts to billions of dollars of lost revenue, the Wall Street Journal reports.
MillerCoors is “adamant” about pulling out of the campaign, however, so only time will tell how this drama will play out. Meanwhile, Molson Coors was recently hit with a class action lawsuit over falsely reporting its income to the tune of an extra $400 million. So, you know, six one, half dozen the other.