Super Bowl Ads Threaten Beer Alliance

Bud Light's controversial Super Bowl ad has its competitors rethinking a proposed alliance to launch an advertising campaign promoting beer consumption. ( Anheuser-Busch )

Shaming your competitors in ads during the Super Bowl tends to thwart cooperation.

That’s what Anheuser-Busch InBev, makers of Bud Light, is discovering after its controversial ads calling out other beer brands for using corn syrup first aired during the Super Bowl Feb. 3. The Wall Street Journal reports that AB InBev, Molson Coors Brewing, Heineken and Constellation Brands had been discussing teaming up for a national ad campaign to revive U.S. beer sales for more than a year, but the Bud Light ad has jeopardized the alliance.

The potential multimillion-dollar, brand-agnostic campaign would have targeted improving the overall health of the beer category. Consumers are drinking more spirits and wine, or abstaining from alcohol altogether. Last year, unit case volume of beer declined by 1.5 percent, according to IWSR data. Additionally, craft beers have been cutting into sales of big brewers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, MillerCoors, Molson's U.S. division, has pulled out of the meeting scheduled for next month and said the project should be paused.

The Bud Light ad took aim at Molson's Miller Lite and Coors Light beers for using corn syrup during the brewing process. Although the ingredient sounds similar to high-fructose corn syrup, which has been associated with the obesity epidemic, dietitians say that the sweetener isn't all bad when used during fermentation.

Cesar Vargas, Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs for Anheuser-Busch, issued the following statement on behalf of Bud Light.

“We, along with other members of our industry, remain fully committed to strengthening the beer category and our joint efforts to highlight the very positive impact that beer has on our economy and in our communities will continue as planned.”

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