- Anheuser-Busch was ordered by a federal judge to stop using Bud Light packaging that suggests beer made by rival MillerCoors has corn syrup as a key ingredient. The order extended a ruling issued in May that blocked AB InBev from making misleading claims in TV, billboard and print advertising.
- U.S. District Judge William Conley ruled that AB InBev can use the "No Corn Syrup" packaging until it runs out or through March, whichever comes first. AB InBev said it will appeal the decision. "We will continue providing consumers with the transparency they demand, including by informing beer drinkers that Bud Light is brewed with no corn syrup," a company spokesperson said in emailed statements to Marketing Dive.
- Bud Light also debuted new creative to coincide with the beginning of the NFL season, according to a press release shared with Marketing Dive. Two ads, "Recline" and "Crisp," feature the Bud Knight and the tagline "brewed with no corn syrup for a crisp taste." The Bud Knight will also appear in two spots for Bud Light Platinum, the "Official Beer of Thursday Night Football."
MillerCoors scored a key legal victory against Anheuser-Busch by successfully challenging claims made by its archrival's advertising and packaging.
"With this ruling, we are holding Bud Light accountable for their actions, and we will keep holding their feet to the fire every time they intentionally mislead the American public," MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley said in a statement.
The ruling doesn't cover the unspecified damages that MillerCoors sought in its lawsuit filed on March 21, but does show the court's willingness to accept the company's demands that AB InBev halt parts of a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign. The Bud Light commercials that sparked the feud premiered during the Super Bowl, the world's biggest stage for advertisers, and the "no corn syrup" claims have been central to the brand's marketing this year.
In its statement to Marketing Dive, AB InBev criticized MillerCoors' legal argument while claiming that the packaging for Bud Light is factual. "MillerCoors's position defies logic — it has publicly acknowledged that Miller Lite and Coors Light are both brewed with corn syrup. We publicly acknowledge that Bud Light is brewed with no corn syrup. These are simply the facts on which everyone agrees," a spokesperson said.
With that in mind, the two new spots that feature the tagline "brewed with no corn syrup for a crisp taste" could play into the court case as AB InBev seeks its appeal. The slate of NFL ads come as brands vie for football fans' attention. NFL ratings bounced back last season following two seasons of decline.
In addition to the new ads, Bud Light recently opened a pop-up appliance store with the Cleveland Browns to sell replica Victory Fridges in downtown Cleveland. The campaign is a follow-up to a similar effort last year.