In one first-quarter ad, a humorous installment in Bud Light’s medieval-themed “Dilly Dilly” campaign, the recurring king character embarks on a journey to deliver a shipment of misdelivered corn syrup to its correct address. He stops first at the Miller Lite castle, which had already received its corn syrup, and later at the Coors Light castle, where the king is pleased to get his missing supply.
“To be clear, we brew Coors Light with corn syrup,” said the Coors Light king in the ad. Bud Light returned to the theme in ads in the third and fourth quarter. The message provoked quick responses on Twitter.
The National Corn Growers Association reprimanded Bud Light. “@BudLight America’s corn farmers are disappointed in you,” it wrote in a tweet. “Our office is right down the road! We would love to discuss with you the many benefits of corn! Thanks @MillerLight and @CoorsLite for supporting our industry.”
Brewers also responded. Samuel Adams beer distanced itself from the ingredient, tweeting, “No corn syrup AND no rice. #barley #hops #water #yeast.”
Executives from MillerCoors LLC, which sells both Miller Lite and Coors Light, were perhaps the most wound up.
MillerCoors tweeted an image comparing Bud Light with Miller Lite on calories and carbohydrates, followed minutes later by a tweet from Adam Collins, vice president of communications and community affairs.
“The Bud Light ad says more about their market position than it does about any @MillerCoors products,” he said. “When was the last time ABI used their Super Bowl ad to attack a competing brand? Miller Lite has been gaining share for 17 straight quarters & someone’s feeling the heat!”
Peter Marino, chief communications officer at MillerCoors and president of the company’s craft and import division Tenth and Blake, aided in the defense. “Bud Light uses rice to aid fermentation. We use corn syrup. Interestingly, none of our products use High Fructose Corn Syrup, yet several of ABI’s do. Things that make you go hmmmmm,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Anheuser-Busch fully supports corn growers and will continue to invest in the corn industry,” said a spokesman. “Bud Light’s Super Bowl commercials are only meant to point out a key difference in Bud Light from some other light beers. This effort is to provide consumers transparency and elevate the beer category.”