The Super Bowl was considered to be generally a boring game due to a defensive struggle that resulted in the lowest scoring NFL championship game ever and another title for the New England Patriots. Despite the lack of offense there were a few offensive advertisements that resulted in social media backlash, including Bud Light’s corn syrup commercials.
In years past agriculture has been painted with a positive light by Super Bowl advertisements. In 2014, Chevrolet talked about “Romance on the Ranch” between a Hereford bull and some heifers. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was taken down a notch or two in 2017 with an advertisement that pointed out its funding structure that doesn’t actually help animals directly. A recent commercial receiving the highest praise was Dodge Ram’s “So God Made a Farmer” spot in 2013 featuring narration by legendary radio broadcaster Paul Harvey.
For Super Bowl LIII, Bud Light’s corn syrup advertisements were seen as a far cry from supporting agriculture. In a series of advertisements that ran during the Super Bowl or were promoted online, Bud Light used its medieval “Dilly Dilly” themed commercials to shine light on the fact that Miller Lite and Coors Light use corn syrup in the brewing process. The commercials are part of Bud Light’s rollout of ingredient labels on their beer cases that will start in February.
Farmers and other members of agriculture went to social media to voice their displeasure with Anheuser-Busch Co.’s decision to purport other beers’ containing corn syrup as being inferior:
Bud Light: we don’t use corn syrup— Cole Gilkey (@ole_king_Cole_) February 4, 2019
Ag Twitter: pic.twitter.com/ZBjAgjqftB
“Corn opens lower after Bud Light runs first anti-corn syrup ad in Super Bowl history”— Peter Meijer (@openingprint) February 3, 2019
.@BudLight America’s corn farmers are disappointed in you. 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. https://t.co/6fIWtRdeeM— National Corn (NCGA) (@NationalCorn) February 4, 2019
No more bud light 4 me, give me a can of corn syrup instead #budlightsucks— Mark Kenney (@MarkJKenney) February 4, 2019
Heartbroken from that anti corn syrup ad from bud light.— Todd Williamsen (@T_Willie4) February 4, 2019
Bud Light didn't change how it is made, has always been made with rice. After fermentation, it's the same pretty much. What annoys me is that all of a sudden they jumped on the same fear based marketing that the anti-GMO/Organic crowd have been using. Impying corn syrup is bad.— Brandon Bell (@bjbell60) February 4, 2019
It even sparked Iowa corn farmer Kevin Ross to go to Twitter where he shared a video of himself dumping Bud Light down the sink with the social media tag #dumpdillydilly:
A number of Tweets followed suit with the #dumpdillydilly hashtag:
Fans of beer and employees of Miller-Coors were also displeased with Bud Light’s advertising tactics, especially since high fructose corn syrup is used in other Anheuser-Busch products:
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 https://t.co/Y2Na2mbErZ— pjmarino2 (@pjmarino2) February 4, 2019
Bud Light spent a fortune to say they don’t brew beer with corn syrup. Great ad, but no one watching can tell you why that’s a bad thing.— Steve Hofstetter (@SteveHofstetter) February 3, 2019
Coors light could run an ad that says “now with corn syrup!” and people would be excited for it. #SuperBowl
So if it's not the corn syrup, then what is it that makes bud light taste so bad?— Señor Kleine (@SenorKleine) February 4, 2019
I’d like to see the Venn diagram of Bud Light consumers and people who care about corn syrup— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) February 4, 2019
At MillerCoors, we're proud of our high-quality, great-tasting beers. We're also proud that none of our products include any high fructose corn syrup, while a number of Anheuser-Busch products do. And Miller Lite has fewer calories, fewer carbs and more taste than Bud Light. pic.twitter.com/GeUUXqnSpc— MillerCoors (@MillerCoors) February 4, 2019
With the negative reaction to the advertisement from agriculture and beer fans, there’s hope that Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light will try a more positive message for the products in its own beers.
What are your thoughts about the recent Super Bowl advertisements? Let us know in the comments.