March 3, 2023
Anheuser-Busch and Molson Coors Have a Litigious History Regarding Comparative Claims
In 2019, Molson Coors sued Anheuser-Busch over a Super Bowl LIII ad claiming that Miller Lite and Coors Light were sweetened with rice rather than corn syrup.
The comparative ad claim in this beer wars case
The latest dispute: on February 23, 2023, Anheuser-Busch filed a Fast-Track SWIFT challenge with NAD against Molson Coor's claim 2022 claim, “light beer shouldn't taste like water; it should taste like beer.”
In the ad's 15-second video, a guy riding a bike uphill stops for a break, opens a beer that's colored in a blue color similar to Bud Light's packaging, and pours the beer over his head.
How did NAD evaluate the comparative advertising claim?
NAD found that the claim “Light beer shouldn't taste like water...” is not puffery or a mere opinion.
Puffery is not regulated, assuming the messaging does not cross the thin line between puffery and an actionable ad claim.
To learn more about how you can safely use puffery in advertising, visit this page:
NAD determined that the claim tasting “like water” was a measurable attribute.
Measurable attributes may be verified factually based on reliable sensory testing involving whether consumers detect a watery taste or the absence of taste.
NAD's result regarding the comparative ad claim
The result: the ad should be discontinued since Molson Coors “did not submit evidence supporting the claim that any other light beers ‘taste like water.'”
Anheuser-Busch responded saying, "it appreciates" the decision.
Molson Coors responded by saying that it "vehemently disagrees” and indicated it plans to appeal.
Are NAD's decisions binding?
NAD's decisions are not binding and may be appealed to the BBB National Programs' National Advertising Review Board (NARB).
Most advertisers, however, don't appeal NAD decisions; they voluntarily comply.
Does NAD refer digital advertising disputes to the FTC?
However, if a party doesn't comply, NAD routinely refers the ad claim to the FTC for review and possible enforcement action.
NAD further noted that the Fast-Track SWIFT challenge was appropriate because there was only a single issue in dispute.
If an ad is funny, it's not automatically puffery.