After Bud Light’s corn syrup ads, MillerCoors said they were backing out of the initiative. They have.

By Food & Wine
June 12, 2019
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The old adage goes “Any publicity is good publicity.” If that’s the case, Bud Light’s corn syrup attack ads during this year’s Super Bowl — and the ensuing “Corntroversy” — may have benefited Miller Lite and Coors Light despite finding themselves playing defense. Some conspiracy theorists even surmised that MillerCoors might have been privy to the whole thing. The beer industry was certainly in need of something. Overall, beer sales have been stagnant at best, and the biggest losers have been some of America’s largest brands. But as is often the case, the facts seem to keep proving the conspiracies wrong: MillerCoors is in the middle of an ongoing court battle with Anheuser-Busch over the ads. And meanwhile, a proposed industrywide campaign to help promote beer over competition like wine and spirits — the previous “something” the industry was planning — has now moved forward without MillerCoors.

To be fair, MillerCoors already said they were backing out of the planned campaign, which at one point was reportedly set to include funding from four of the largest brewing companies in America: Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Constellation Brands, and Heineken. But reports have emerged this week that MillerCoors is officially out, and that all the recent ballyhoo may have caused Heineken to back away as well.

“We love the concept. We are all for anything that can lift the category,” MillerCoors spokesman Adam Collins told Ad Age, before adding, but “we can’t re-engage on the campaign until Anheuser-Busch stops their category denigration campaign.”

Heineken then went on to cite this dispute as their reason to avoid funding the plan as well. “In principle, we support this initiative. Once everyone comes to the table, of course we will be there,” a Heineken spokeswoman also told Ad Age. “We hope that we reach a point where all major players can fully participate.”

That’s not to say that Anheuser-Busch and Constellation Brands will be going it alone. The campaign is also reportedly backed by all the major beer trade organizations: The Beer Institute, the craft beer-focused Brewers Association, and the National Beer Wholesalers Association. Still, the irony that a campaign meant to unify beer against other alcoholic beverages is getting attention because of in-fighting in the brewing industry shouldn’t be lost on anyone.

The only-sort-of-industrywide campaign is set to launch this summer. Just what it will look like is still unknown, but don’t anticipate any Miller Lite or Coors Light product shots.

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