The industry is still talking about the ABInBev Super Bowl ads that called out Miller Lite and Coors Light being brewed with corn syrup while implying that Bud Light does not. It has been awhile since the big brewers have gone at it directly in front of the consumer via adverting. Maybe that’s because Big Beer has been so concerned about the threat from craft.
AB fired a loud and clear salvo over the use of corn syrup in the competitor’s beer. Prior to the Super Bowl ads, Bud Light began putting on their packaging “no corn syrup, and no artificial flavors.” And then the gloves came off on Super Bowl Sunday. The Bud Light ads directly named Miller Lite and Coors Light for using corn syrup.
Does it matter? Does the consumer care?
High fructose corn syrup is of course a known “bad” ingredient by consumers. But Miller and Coors beers don’t contain high fructose corn syrup and the ads never mentioned that. Did ABInBev think the consumer would confuse corn syrup for high fructose? Probably. What wasn’t mentioned in the ads is that many beer brands are brewed using regular corn syrup, including #1 import (and partially owned by ABInBev Corona). MillerCoors quickly shot back on social media, including a tweet saying that none of their beers contain high fructose corn syrup but that a “number of Anheuser-Busch products do.”
Although it is a solid and general trend by consumers to care about what is in the food and beverages they drink, it’s hard to imagine that ads like this move the needle for Bud Light. In the meantime, expect to see more back-and-forth between Big Beer, each trying to position themselves as favorable as CornSyrupGate continues. One thing is for sure; it’s not good for beer. And the industry wonders why its losing share to wine and sprits?