In the United States, it is common to see brands openly criticize their rivals in advertisements. AB InBev, the world's # 1 beer maker, used the process on Sunday at the last Super Bowl with a spot for its Bud Light brand attacking MillerCoors and its Coors Light and Miller Lite beers. In this ad, full of humor, AB InBev denounces the use of corn syrup, a cheap sweetener, in the manufacturing process of its competitor.
The diffusion of this spot caused a marketing battle of a rare intensity between the two giants of the beer. Several members of the influential lobby of US corn producers quickly criticized AB InBev's publicity and provided support for its rival. As of Tuesday, MillerCoors has bought a full page of advertising in the New York Times to defend the use of corn syrup. The brewer confirms using this ingredient (criticized for its dietary properties) but said that if it is used for fermentation, there are no traces in the final product.
Galvanized by the support of farmers, the heir to the Beer Empire, Pete Coors even made a personal meeting on Tuesday at a meeting of the National Corn Growers Association in Denver, Colorado, to distribute a cargo. of Miller Lite and Coors Light.
But the story does not stop there, the next day, AB InBev took the floor to answer the controversy. "To be clear, we are not saying that corn syrup is bad, we just say we do not use it for Bud Light. It is a cheap ingredient and we believe that a good quality beer should only contain the best ingredients, "said a spokesperson Ad Age. Rather than extinguish the controversy, the brewer has again attacked his competitor.
AB InBev has also recidivated by publishing Wednesday, a message on social networks, which takes the medieval aesthetic of the spot at the origin of the scandal. It says: "In the kingdom of Bud Light, we also love corn! Corn cobs, corn bread, popcorn – we just do not use it for our beers. " The brewer is again attacking the economic angle: "my royal accountant tried to make me use corn syrup to save money, but although this ingredient is less expensive, I brew with rice, as well as 'with the best hops (…) because I'm the King and it's not my job to save money'.
Resumed in many articles in the US press, the case has probably delighted the two giants, who have not failed to feed the controversy to enjoy the media attention.
An opportunity at a time when sales of major beer brands are down, facing the competition of craft beers and public health discourses. AB InBev was the biggest spender at the last Super Bowl, according to Kantar Media, with $ 59 million invested for 5 minutes and 45 seconds of advertising space. A record amount in the history of the competition.