Despite their reputation for running towards the silly and cartoonish, beer ads have rules that must be followed. The Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division (NAD) said Molson Coors broke those rules with a Miller Lite campaign in 2022. According to the agency, the company must pull the ads, which include the tagline: “light beer shouldn’t go to water taste, it must taste like beer.”
If CNN reports, the spot that caused competitor Anheuser Busch to object was only 15 seconds long, with a cyclist riding up a hill and pausing to rest. Then he opened a beer in the same shade of dark blue as on Bud Light cans and poured it over his head. The NAD stated that strongly implying that the competition’s brew might as well be water emphasized “a measurable property”. Customers might think that the claim is “supported by such evidence”.
The NAD did not see the joke, saying that Molson Coors had to pull the commercial because the company had not “submitted evidence to support the claim that other light beers ‘taste like water’.”
Molson Coors disagreed with the NAD’s decision and is appealing. The beer giant may also have a case — after all, CNN notes that NAD’s decisions aren’t legally binding, though advertisers generally agree with rulings.
Anheuser-Busch and Molson Coors are the top-selling beer companies in the US, and the companies have clashed before. In a later dismissed case, Molson Coors sued over a 2019 Super Bowl ad alleging it used corn syrup in the brewing process.