MillerCoors, maker of Miller Lite and Coors Lite beers, has sued Anheuser-Busch InBev, maker of Bud Light, claiming that Bud Light’s ads that debuted during this year’s Super Bowl over corn syrup are false and misleading advertising.
The Bud Light ads take MillerCoors to task for using corn syrup in brewing its beers.
MillerCoors claims the ads deceive beer consumers into “believing that there is corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup in Miller Lite and Coors Light to increase sales of Bud Light.” But MillerCoors says that while corn syrup is a commonly used fermentation aid in the brewing process, there is no corn syrup in its beers by the time they reach consumers.
The complaint, field in federal court in Wisconsin, alleges that Anheuser-Busch is intentionally trying to trick consumers into thinking the Miller and Coors Lite beers contain high-fructose corn syrup when they do not. It claims that Anheuser-Busch itself uses corn syrup in the brewing of Busch, Busch Light, Natural Light, and Bud Ice.
MiillerCoors says Anheuser-Busch is aware that many consumers prefer not to ingest high-fructose corn syrup or HFCS, and had “reportedly conducted extensive focus group testing in which it found that consumers do not understand the difference between ordinary corn syrup used by numerous brewers, including Anheuser-Busch itself in some brands.
MillerCoors also alleges Anheuser-Busch is misusing its trademarks.
“AB’s campaign does not educate consumers; it confuses them,” says the complaint.
MillerCoors is seeking an injunction to stop Bud Light from continuing the ads. It is also asking for a trial by jury and for the defendant to pay its legal fees.
A spokeswoman for Anheuser-Busch told Bloomberg News by email that the MillerCoors lawsuit is “baseless and will not deter Bud Light from providing consumers with the transparency they demand.”
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