- Beer brand Natural Light is taunting Miller Lite with a free beer offer for people who stop following its archrival on social media, according to an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer. The trolling campaign is the latest salvo in the battle between Natural Light parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors, brewer of Miller Lite, that grew more acrimonious after this year's Super Bowl.
- Miller Lite last month brought back its former slogan, "It's Miller Time," in a campaign that mocked those who obsess over social media and offered free beer to the first 118,000 people who could prove they had "unfollowed" its social media accounts. The campaign highlighted how people can connect in real life while enjoying a Miller Lite.
- Natural Light last week also started offering cash back to consumers who can demonstrate they had stopped following Miller Lite on social media. "We don't agree on everything but we agree on this — it's 100% time to unfollow @MillerLite," Natural Light said in an Instagram post.
Natural Light is turning Miller Lite's latest campaign on its head by giving people another reason to stop following its rival on social media. Whether the move converts Miller Lite drinkers into Natural Light customers in the longer run isn't guaranteed, especially as both companies grapple with a shrinking market and changing consumer tastes. Beer consumption fell 1.5% in 2018, the second straight year of declines, after several years of little change in volume, per researcher ISWR. When Americans do drink beer, they show a growing preference for craft beers, whose consumption rose 4.7% last year. In a sign of the challenges legacy beer brands face, Molson Coors announced a massive restructuring last week that included the announcement that its U.S. business will ditch the name MillerCoors on Jan. 1.
We don’t agree on everything but we agree on this—it’s 100% time to unfollow @MillerLite— Natural Light (@naturallight) October 25, 2019
To offer support, we’re doubling down on their offer & giving anyone who unfollows them $$ back on Natty Light. Hit us up on Twitter, FB, IG, or Pinterest for more #Friends #Love #Social https://t.co/vsArx684nR pic.twitter.com/yxdK0l3Hmg
The trolling of Miller Lite on social media is the latest chapter in an ongoing dispute that started after Anheuser-Busch ran Super Bowl ads for Bud Light that belittled Miller Lite and Coors Light for using corn syrup in the beer making process. While corn syrup isn't in the final product, the ads were intended to play upon consumer health concerns. MillerCoors sued its rival, and in September won a partial court victory that compelled Anheuser-Busch to change its advertising. The ruling didn't cover the unspecified damages that MillerCoors sought in its lawsuit filed March 21, but did show the court's willingness to accept the company's demands that Anheuser-Busch halt parts of a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign. Last month, AB InBev accused MillerCoors's U.S. business unit of stealing its secret recipes for Bud Light and Michelob Ultra from an Anheuser-Busch worker, the latest twist in their tangled legal saga.
Meanwhile, social networks like Twitter and Instagram have given brands a platform to taunt each other with troll campaigns that mock rivals and "conquest" their customers. The efforts can be effective at urging people to engage with a brand and to promote viral sharing with friends and followers. Burger chains have embraced the strategy in the hyper-competitive fast-food space. Wendy's, for example, expresses a humorous, sassy persona on Twitter by directly jabbing rivals like McDonald's. Burger King also has run several campaigns that urge consumers to either leave a McDonald's location or to virtually set fire to competitors' ads.