Federal Judge Favors MillerCoors Over Anheuser-Busch In “Corntroversial” Lawsuit

Image credit: Anheuser-Busch

What started as a Bud Light Super Bowl commercial accusing MillerCoors of using corn syrup in its beer, has ended up with a Federal court ruling against Anheuser Busch.

Here’s what we know…

On Friday “US District Judge William Conley for the Western District of Wisconsin granted a preliminary injunction sought by MillerCoors that temporarily stops Anheuser-Busch from using the words ‘corn syrup’ in ads without giving more context,” according to the Republic.

In March MillerCoors sued Anheuser-Busch InBev over its controversial Bud Light Super Bowl ad. The lawsuit was but the latest retaliation in a series of skirmishes between the brewing giants which began as a Super Bowl commercial that shamed Miller Lite and Coors Light for using corn syrup during its brewing process.

MillerCoors claimed that St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch had spent as much as $30 million on a “false and misleading” campaign and in issuing a preliminary injunction against the world’s largest brewer it appears that federal judge agreed with them.

According to the MillerCoors press release, the new federal ruling bars Anheuser Busch from using specific language featured prominently during the recent ad campaign in any future commercials, print advertising or social media.

And within 10 days of the May 24th ruling Anheuser Busch is barred from:

  • Saying Bud Light contains “100% less corn syrup”;
  • Referencing Bud Light and “no corn syrup” without any reference to “brewed with,” “made with” or “uses”;
  • Referencing Miller Lite and/or Coors Light and “corn syrup” without including any reference to “brewed with,” “made with” or “uses”; and
  • Describing “corn syrup” as an ingredient “in” the finished product.

The ruling affects two Bud Light commercials and billboards that describe Bud Light as containing “100 percent less corn syrup” than Miller Lite and Coors Light. But interestingly it did not affect all of Anheuser-Busch’s advertising targeting MillerCoors…

The Anheuser-Busch commercials that premiered at the Super Bowl and started what is now being called a “Corntroversy” were allowed to keep airing. And the judge deferred ruling on whether the existing Bud Light packaging, which proclaims the beer has “no corn syrup,” will have to be removed from stores.

Not surprisingly MillerCoors applauded the court’s decision and took the opportunity to gloat a little adding that Anheuser-Busch should be trying to grow the beer market, not “destroy it through deceptive advertising.”

“We are pleased with today’s ruling that will force Anheuser-Busch to change or remove advertisements that were clearly designed to mislead the American public,” said MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley.

Both MillerCoors and Anheuser Busch have seen the US sales of their flagship brands decline in recent years, losing market share to craft beer, wine and spirits.

Bud Light image: Anheuser-Busch

Coors Light image: MillerCoors

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